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Pentecostal Preacher Sherman Allen Turns Out to Be Reverend Spanky

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In church, she says, Allen would sometimes sidle up to her and ask, "Is your bottom still sore?" He suggested she soak herself in Epsom salts.

In the lawsuit Drake says the beatings continued until she was in her 20s. The last time he paddled her in his office at the church, Drake says, she was three months' pregnant. Allen, she says, accused her of being rebellious. "He started this crying act—'I love you, I love you, I love you,'" Drake claims. "I was like, yeah, I love you too, but you're not gonna hit me. And we started wrestling and tussling."

Allen grabbed for a paddle, and Drake tried to shove him away and push toward the door, she says. Allen held onto her, she says, while she hollered "Let me go!" He managed to whack her one time on her rear end, then she bolted out the door and ran down the street.

Two hours later at home, she says, she miscarried.

Drake says she told police about the beatings. It was after that, she claims, that Allen showed up at her home and threatened her. "He told me if I ever tried to ruin him he would come back for me," she says.

In 1989 or 1990, Drake and two other young women who claimed they'd been beaten took their complaints about Allen to Superintendent Edward Battles, who presided over Allen's district in COGIC. Battles set up a meeting with Bishop J. Neaul Haynes and several other COGIC leaders, Drake says. While Haynes listened sympathetically to the allegations, she says, he didn't take any action against Allen, as far as she knows. One of the women spoke at the meeting of Allen's bad habit of paddling his young female members.

Haynes' response, according to Drake: "Old habits die hard."

Could Haynes have disciplined Allen? As his jurisdictional bishop, Haynes outranked Allen, a pastor. The Kelly and Drake lawsuits accuse COGIC of being negligent in their dealings with Allen, since church officials had known about the paddling allegations for many years. But several COGIC sources who spoke to the Observer said Haynes' authority, in reality, was limited. COGIC pastors have considerable autonomy in their own churches. The COGIC Official Manual allows Haynes to call a "trial" for Allen, but only if a majority of the members of his church document wrongdoing and "file charges" against him with his bishop. The meeting with Drake and two other meetings the Observer learned about appear to resemble the trial procedure outlined in the manual. If any action was taken against Allen, however, it did not involve removing him from the pulpit. Bishop Owens, the former COGIC presiding bishop, says Haynes never brought the allegations to the denomination's general board, of which Haynes is a member.

Many more women would allege that Allen abused them before COGIC's presiding bishop finally suspended the pastor in 2007.

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"Chris" was furious. He jumped in his truck and drove from Fort Worth to Dallas to confront Sherman Allen, who was attending a COGIC function at Bishop Haynes' Saintsville Church of God in Christ in South Oak Cliff. Chris (not his real name) found the diminutive preacher in the church hallway and got right up in his face, nose to nose.

"Leave the young lady alone!" Chris shouted. "If you want to threaten somebody, here I am."

Allen backed away. "He was scared," Chris says. "Like a little girl."

Two musicians—Elder Bill Thompson and a bass player—ended up restraining Chris. "Bill stopped me, matter of fact, from putting my foot in Sherman Allen's brain," Chris says of the incident in 1987 or 1988. "Bill told me not to hit him in church."

Chris pauses a moment. "I should have hit him."

Chris was one of the many men and women who personally knew one of Allen's alleged victims and tried to do something about it. A teenage girl—a Shiloh member—had confided to Chris and his wife that Allen allegedly was beating and sexually abusing her. The teenager's father wanted to kill Allen, Chris says. "I said man, look, it's not worth it," Chris says. "Don't go to jail for this guy."

The teenager and a young woman would end up voicing their accusations in a private meeting attended by Chris and his wife, from whom he's now divorced; Bishop Haynes; Allen; a parent of one of the alleged victims and three other COGIC officials, including Superintendent Battles. (District superintendents, who rank above pastors, report to a bishop in COGIC.)

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Julie Lyons
Contact: Julie Lyons