Lawsuit Filed Against African Methodist Episcopal Church Over Alleged Sexual Harassment by Rev. Frederick McCullough to Female Associate Minister
A lawsuit against the African Methodist Episcopal Church was filed Wednesday claiming a minister at a St. Louis church sexually harassed a female subordinate.
According to the lawsuit filed in St. Louis Circuit Court, Rev. Frederick McCullough of Wayman African Methodist Episcopal Church made sexually explicit remarks to Brenda Jones, a former associate minister at the same church.
The lawsuit alleges McCullough forced Jones to see a photo of his genitalia. McCullough also allegedly inappropriately touched Jones on several occasions, grabbing her, attempting to kiss her and reaching under her skirt, according to the lawsuit.
The suit demands a jury trial, as well as unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
McCullough could not be reached for comment, and it was unclear whether he had retained an attorney. Lawyers for other defendants could not be reached or declined comment.
In addition to McCullough, defendants include the national African Methodist Episcopal Church, the 5th Episcopal District of the AME Church, which encompasses churches in Missouri, Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, presiding prelate of the 5th Episcopal District of the AME Church, and Wayman Church.
Jones had been a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church since 1996, the lawsuit says. In approximately 2011, she became a member of the congregation at Wayman Church, at about the same time McCullough was assigned pastor there, according to the suit.
After Jones filed a written complaint to the church about the pastor, the lawsuit alleges that McCullough disparaged her from the pulpit, referring to her as a “Potiphar’s wife,” a Biblical reference that implies Jones falsely accused McCullough because he rebuffed her attempts to seduce him.
Church officials found McCullough guilty of inappropriate behavior but contrary to church policies, he received only a six-month suspension, according to the suit.
McCullough now heads Restoration House Community Church in Hazelwood. No one there could be reached Thursday.
The lawsuit also alleges that around October 2013, Bishop Kirkland of the 5th Episcopal District of the AME Church insulted Jones at meetings, claiming she was “the devil” and is “going to hell.”
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