Bishop Earl Paulk, accused in a lawsuit of molesting a lifelong member of his church, says all his actions toward the woman were “entirely proper and were kindly Christian acts.”
In papers filed Friday in his behalf, Paulk “emphatically denies” molesting Jessica Battle. The papers were filed by lawyers including Dennis Brewer of Irving, Texas, who served as a board member of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries and whose clients have included television evangelists W.V. Grant and Marilyn Hickey.
“I think our answer speaks for itself,” said Edward Lindsey, an Atlanta lawyer representing Paulk. “Also, from the pulpit shortly after the case was filed, the bishop was pretty clear about his position.”
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Paulk told about 5,000 worshippers on Easter Sunday at his Chapel Hill Harvester Church, “All the accusations you have been hearing are absolutely untrue, and it will be proven so.”
Battle, a Florida college student who grew up in Paulk’s south DeKalb County megachurch, filed suit in DeKalb State Court in April charging Paulk with child molestation. Battle said in her suit that from the time she was 7 until she was about 11 years old, Paulk “engaged in a pattern of conduct . . . that included caressing her, fondling her sexual organs, performing oral sex on her and having sexual intercourse with her.” She also charged that
five years ago, when she was 17, Paulk had forcible intercourse with her. Some of the acts occurred on church property or during church-sponsored events, according to the suit.
Battle’s suit, filed against Paulk, Chapel Hill Harvester Church and five unidentified defendants, has been assigned to Judge Wayne Purdom.
Chapel Hill Harvester Church, founded by Paulk, claims 15,000 members who meet in the $18.5 million, 7,700-seat neo-Gothic worship center on nearly 100 acres in south DeKalb County. Paulk also founded a Christian academy, a Bible institute for postsecondary study, programs for substance abusers and people with AIDS and an international television ministry. He has written more than a dozen books.