Church bishop accused of sexual coercion recovering from surgery
Bishop Earl Paulk, the south DeKalb County megachurch minister involved in his fourth sex scandal, must submit to an independent medical examination to determine whether he is physically able to be questioned in a lawsuit against him.
DeKalb Superior Court Judge Mark Anthony Scott said Monday that he will appoint a physician to examine Paulk, 78, who underwent major cancer-related surgery on Nov. 11.
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Scott’s ruling came in a case brought by Mona and Bobby Brewer, former parishioners of Paulk’s at Chapel Hill Harvester Church.
The Brewers claim that he used his position as a spiritual leader to manipulate Mona Brewer into a sexual relationship that lasted 14 years.
One of Paulk’s lawyers has acknowledged that Paulk had a brief sexual relationship with Brewer, but he painted her as the initiator.
Stephen Yaklin of Marietta, one of Paulk’s attorneys, said his client was hospitalized from Nov. 11 through Dec. 3 and again from Dec. 22 to Jan. 16. Yaklin said Paulk still is bedridden, taking 12 different medications.
“We’re asking the court to allow him sufficient time to recover,” Yaklin said.
In ordering the examination, Scott said, “I’m trying not to do anything onerous to a senior citizen. At the same time, these plaintiffs have to have their day in court.”
Scott said he will try to arrange for Dr. Eddie Whitehead, an internist who practices at DeKalb Medical Center at Hillandale, to examine Paulk.
The bishop’s deposition is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 27.
Scott issued no public ruling on the question of whether Paulk should have to provide a DNA sample to show whether he has fathered children by women other than his wife, Norma.
Louis Levenson, the Brewers’ lawyer, suggested that a sample could be obtained during the independent medical examination.
But Paulk’s lawyers argued that no allegations of Paulk’s having fathered any children have been made in the lawsuit.
The lawyers and judge continued the debate in the judge’s chambers.
In a separate ruling, Scott allowed Levenson and the Brewers to add individual members of the board of directors of Chapel Hill Harvester Church as defendants in the case. The church and the bishop’s brother, Don Paulk, are already included as defendants.
New names added Monday include Clariece Paulk, Don Paulk’s wife, who is also a pastor at the church, and several other current and past pastors and staff members.
The Brewers contend that, as members of the church’s board of directors, the individuals were negligent in their supervision of Earl Paulk.
A 2001 lawsuit against Paulk by a former church member was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money. In that case, Jessica Battle, a college student at the time, accused Paulk of molesting her when she was a child and forcing her to have sex with him when she was 17.
Paulk was also publicly accused in 1992 by his former ghostwriter and biographer of manipulating her into a sexual relationship.
He denied that affair, but in the midst of that scandal he admitted that he had had an adulterous relationship in 1960 when he was pastor of what was then the Hemphill Church of God (now Mount Paran).
He left the church and the Church of God denomination at that time and founded what is now Chapel Hill Harvester.