An Atlanta-area pastor accused of allegedly locking disabled people in his basement was assaulted on Thursday, denying that he has ever detained anyone against their will. Instead, Curtis Bankston’s team stated that he was at risk of a media attack on a Black man whose reputation was tarnished.
Bankston’s attorney, Dexter Wimbush, said during a press conference at the actual basement, “I am greatly disturbed by this continued attack on black men in America. “It is unfortunate that the media will bring out the wrong things that Black Men do. But there seems to be a plan this purposeful to exterminate even the Blacks in this country who are doing the right thing. ”
Bankston, minister of the Ministry of One Step of Faith and a Second Chance of One Step of Faith in Griffin, was arrested on January 13, CBS 46 Atlanta reported. Emergency services said they were called to a home for a patient with epilepsy and instead found eight mentally or physically disabled people in a locked basement. The crew had to climb through a window to get to them, FOX 5 Atlanta report.
“It is both terrifying and disgusting to see the extent to which these individuals have been exploited by those holding positions of trust,” the Griffin Police Department told FOX 5 in a statement at the time. .
Investigators told FOX 5, the pastor and his wife, who lived upstairs, used the basement both for pastoral purposes and as an unlicensed collective family facility.
Bankston has been charged with false imprisonment and charged with controlling government funds and benefits given to the residents he lives in. Bankston claims he has no access to that money and that residents’ finances are managed by conservators and financial representatives. Separately, however, he claims that his department is paid to help eight homeless people in the area. He declined to say who provided the funds.
In a previously published statement, Wimbush said, “Unfortunately, press reports filled with inaccurate information paint Pastor Bankston, his wife, and his ministry in a negative light. … First, One Step of Faith-2 Lucky Ministries did not operate a group home but a Christian ministry that provides housing and lodging to individuals who are typically homeless or in-state . “
Bankston appeared at a press conference held in his basement on Thursday but did not speak. Instead, a group of theological colleagues wrote orally about his contributions to the community.
“This is simply a Christian man who is following his call to help those in need. We cannot sit and allow [the] The ministry was attacked,” he said. “Just because you don’t have a church of 2,000 or 5,000 people doesn’t mean you don’t have a calling from God.”
Wimbush alleges that the real problem is with zoning ordinances turned criminal, suggesting that the local government in Griffin is not comfortable with the type of service Bankston is providing in its basement. . Wimbush has acknowledged an incident with a locked door, but claims no one was held against their will. He said residents had a curfew and some had to be kept inside for their safety.
“There is no evidence that anyone tried to leave… and was unable to leave,” he said. “The situation arose simply because of the EMS response.”
Father Joseph Miller from the National Action Network claimed the arrest was due to a culture of “racial prejudice” in Griffin.
“[T]he has the power to charge any citizen in this city. And you can criminalize anyone you want, if you want to do that. But he also has the opportunity to do a thorough and unbiased investigation and follow the facts.”
When asked by reporters if Bankston could speak for himself, Wimbush stepped in.
“Don’t be naive here,” he said, “Anything [Bankston] say, can and will be used against him… He hired me to speak for him. ”