*A Georgia pastor and his wife have been charged with false imprisonment after eight people were discovered locked in their basement.
The people were rescued when Griffin Fire responded to the home of Pastor #CurtisKeithBankston and #SophiaSimmBankston about someone having a seizure. Once there, they discovered a deadbolt on the basement door, and they could not reach the patient. Emergency personnel had to climb through a window to render aid to the person. That is when they found multiple people locked in the basement, all of which had mental and physical disabilities.
Police learned that the Bankston’s controlled the people’s finances and public benefits while operating as a “group home” in collaboration with their One Step of Faith 2nd Chance church. The couple would even deny the victims their medications at times. The victims range in age from 25 to 65. They had all been placed into housing by the Georgia Department of Human Services. Five of them are wards of the state.
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The couple rented the property for fourteen months and used the basement as a nursing home that residents couldn’t escape from.
Dexter Wimbish, Pastor Bankston’s attorney, said in a statement that none of the people were being held against their will. He claims that the couple’s ministry was not operating as a group home but was providing room and board to those in need, “doing what God commanded us to do.” Wimbish also claimed that the patients had conservators handling their finances, who paid money directly to the church for room and board. He says the Bankston’s fed them three times a day.
The Bankston’s have been charged with false imprisonment, though additional charges are expected.
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