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Second suit hits Gordon, church, North Texas Conference Sam Hodges, Mar 2, 2012
By Sam Hodges Managing Editor
A second lawsuit has been filed alleging sexual misconduct by the Rev. Tyrone Gordon and failures by St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church and the North Texas Conference in their supervision of him.
In the new suit, Jeffery Carson alleges being sexually harassed by Mr. Gordon, who last month resigned as pastor of the 5,000-member Dallas church and surrendered his UMC credentials, but who plans to resume preaching this weekend in a non-UMC context.
Mr. Carson’s suit claims St. Luke and the North Texas Conference failed to do an adequate background check on Mr. Gordon and failed to intervene in a timely way once complaints about Mr. Gordon surfaced.
The Rev. Cameron Greer also recently filed suit against Mr. Gordon, St. Luke and the North Texas Conference, alleging sexual harassment from Mr. Gordon and supervisory failures by the church and conference.
Bill Miller, a spokesman for Mr. Gordon, denied both claims of sexual misconduct.
“There’s no truth to the allegations,” said Mr. Miller.
The North Texas Conference did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Earlier, Bishop Earl Bledsoe said the conference would aggressively defend itself against accusations made by Mr. Greer, a licensed local pastor in the conference.
Mr. Carson’s suit was filed by Marilynn Mayse, a St. Luke member who also is representing Mr. Greer.
Mr. Carson’s suit says he was a pianist at St. Luke beginning in 1996, and eventually became youth choir director.
On a trip to Washington, D.C., for a 2004 church conference, Mr. Gordon arranged for Mr. Carson to share a hotel suite with him, according to the suit.
The suit says Mr. Carson discovered Mr. Gordon masturbating and watching a pornographic movie or video on a church-issued laptop, and was asked by Mr. Gordon to join in and talk “dirty” to him.
According to the suit, Mr. Carson ran from the room and avoided Mr. Gordon for the rest of the conference, spending some nights in the hotel lobby. Back in Dallas, Mr. Carson informed his immediate supervisor about the encounter with Mr. Gordon, the suits says.
Mr. Carson’s suit alleges that Mr. Gordon apologized, but later pressed him for a sexual relationship. The suit also claims that Mr. Gordon groped Mr. Carson, that Mr. Carson received harassing text messages from him and that there was a second incident in which Mr. Carson walked in on Mr. Gordon masturbating in a hotel room, with a pornographic video playing.
After that, according to the suit, Mr. Carson again complained to church leaders, but was told to pray about the situation.
Mr. Carson’s suit says he left the church in 2007, and required psychiatric counseling to deal with depression and stress related to the situation with Mr. Gordon.
Mr. Greer grew up attending St. Luke, and worked there early in Mr. Gordon’s tenure. Mr. Greer’s suit also alleges sexual harassment by Mr. Gordon, and both suits claim Mr. Gordon targeted young men on staff over whom he had power.
Mr. Miller said Mr. Gordon’s lawyer—Ben Hall of Houston—has obtained affidavits from persons mentioned in Mr. Greer’s suit, rebutting Mr. Greer’s allegations. He said the lawyer had not seen Mr. Carson’s suit, filed on March 2 in Dallas County District court, but added that Mr. Gordon “absolutely” denied any accusation of sexual misconduct.
Mr. Carson, reached by phone, said he stands by all the allegations in his suit. He said he was persuaded to file suit after learning of other victims.
"I wanted to help bring this to a stop," he said.
A flyer in circulation says Mr. Gordon is senior pastor for the new Transforming Life Christian Fellowship, and that its first worship service will be this Sunday at a Dallas hotel. Mr. Miller said Mr. Gordon was asked by some St. Luke members to start the fellowship.
“He’s preaching,” Mr. Miller said. “We’ll see where it all goes.”
Mr. Gordon remains ordained as a Baptist pastor, according to Mr. Miller. Mr. Gordon’s resignation from St. Luke and surrendering of his UMC credentials ended an investigation by the North Texas Conference into complaints about him.
Mr. Miller said the resignation represented Mr. Gordon’s decision to change ministries.
“He hasn’t done anything wrong,” Mr. Miller said. “He’s just moved on.”
Mr. Gordon came to St. Luke in 2002, from a UM church in Wichita, Kan. At St. Luke, one of the denomination’s largest predominately African-American churches, he succeeded a legendary pastor and civil rights figure, the Rev. Zan Holmes.
Mr. Holmes has returned to St. Luke as interim pastor until another appointment can be made.