(Photo: Mt. Zion Baptist Church)
Joseph Walker III, leading pastor of one of Nashville's largest churches, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, faces a second lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct involving a congregant and violating the trust of another church member, it emerged Thursday. A church spokesman told The Christian Post the claims are nothing but "fabrications."
Corey Lamont Corbin, a former member of Mt. Zion, claims that Walker betrayed his trust and broke his marriage. The plaintiff alleges the pastor had a years-long affair with his wife, which led to their divorce. The pair had reportedly turned to Walker for marriage counseling not long after getting married. Corbin is asking for $5 million in retribution.
Walker is already facing another sexual misconduct lawsuit, filed by four female former congregants earlier this month. The women accused the pastor of sexual misconduct and violating their trust over the past 10 years. Only one of the accusers, Valencia Batson, has revealed her identity, while the other three women have chosen to remain anonymous. The women are also suing for $5 million.
Corbin alleges he and his former wife, Kesha Moore, then newlyweds, went to see Bishop Walker for pastoral counseling in 2000, "specifically marital counseling for sexual problems." After the counseling, Corbin alleges, Walker began a long-term affair with his wife, which led to their divorce in 2004. Moore was married to Corbin from 1999 until 2004, according to the lawsuit.
It was also suggested in the lawsuit that Moore's relationship with Walker might have not been consensual. The legal documentation mentions that "it is highly unlikely that, given Defendant Walker's extreme and extraordinary control and influence as 'celebrity clergy' over his congregation in general, and given the breach of clerical and pastoral duty of care owed to Kesha Moore, it is difficult to imagine that any true consent could have been given by a reasonable person under these circumstances."
The documentation mentions that Walker affirmed his authority with his congregation by presenting photos of himself with government officials and celebrities, or while "driving his Bentley automobile," during church services over the years.
Mount Zion is one of Nashville's largest churches with some 25,000 members and growing at a rate of over 1,800 members per year, according to the church's website. Walker started his ministry at the church in 1992.
The new lawsuit also names two of Walker's assistants and the church as defendants.
The church replied in a statement that these new allegations, like the previous ones, are fabricated.
"There is nothing new here," church spokesman John Van Mol said in a statement emailed to The Christian Post. "No matter how many times plaintiff's counsel re-hashes the same fabrications, the result will be the same – unworthy of comment."
Church leaders have hinted previously that they see the first lawsuit as an attempt by the plaintiffs to receive financial gains.
Corbin's lawyer, Connie Allison, who also represents Batson, said "spiritual manipulation" was one of the arguments for the lawsuit.
Corbin is "internally destroyed because his spiritual life was destroyed," Allison told CP.
"If someone offered me $5 million to mess with my relationship with God and destroy my marriage – a contract between two people and God – and leave me psychologically damaged for the rest of my life – I wouldn't have that for $5 million," she said. "And I believe he (Corbin) wouldn't either."
"There is no price you can put on that," she added..