- (Photo: Victory Christian Center / File)
More alleged sexual abuse victims at the 17,000-member Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, Okla., have come forward, adding to charges already made against the megachurch that its staff delayed reporting the alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl.
Reports revealed that on Monday, prosecutors added two additional charges against 20-year-old Chris Denman, a former employee who was arrested for allegedly raping a 13-year old in a stairwell on the ministry's main campus in August. He is also being accused of molesting a 15-year-old girl and for using a computer to make a lewd proposal to a child and committing a sex crime involving a 12-year-old girl.
Another former employee, Israel Castillo, was arrested last week over similar accusations of making a lewd proposal to a 15-year-old girl and using a computer to commit a sex crime, The Tulsa World shared.
On Tuesday it was unveiled that there might be a fifth victim of sexual abuse and a third suspect could face charges if more information is provided on the currently undisclosed incident.
"We're at a stalemate," said Tulsa Police Det. Cpl. Greg Smith according to The Associated Press. "The third suspect we haven't talked about because all we have to go on now is secondhand information."
Meanwhile on Wednesday, the five Victory Christian Center employees accused of taking two weeks to report the 13-year-old girl's alleged rape to police pleaded not guilty in court. The suspects include Charica Dene Daugherty and John Samuel Daugherty, the son and daughter-in-law of the church's senior pastor Sharon Daugherty. The couple also serve as youth pastors.
"We are confident when an impartial jury hears all the evidence, deliberates, and reaches a conclusion, the last words spoken in this case will be 'not guilty,' " said Jason Robertson, an attorney representing John and Charica Daugherty.
A plea deal is now being negotiated which the Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris is negotiating with the Victory Christian Center employees to prevent the charges from going to a jury trial.
The church noted on Tuesday that the five employees have been suspended pending a disciplinary review.
"We deeply regret that our employees did not report these incidents to authorities within the proper amount of time. This failure within our organization weighs heavily on us, because our purpose is to help people and minister to their needs," Victory Christian Center has said. "Our internal response was unacceptable, and we are taking the proper steps to correct it."
The mother of the assaulted 13-year-old girl filed a lawsuit against the church last week, claiming that Victory Christian Christian had not done enough to report the crime on time.
"Rather than contacting the appropriate authorities, defendant (Victory Christian Center) chose to conduct its own 'investigation' with the ultimate purpose of doing damage control as opposed to protecting the victim", the lawsuit reads.
Stories have also begun emerging from members of the congregation who have been made aware of the sex abuse charges.
"It's a bad situation for the church to be on the front page of the paper every day, but there isn't a church within a 500-mile radius that doesn't know about this now," said Tim Peterson, a 28-year Victory Christian Center member.
"Every youth pastor knows now 'If I suspect abuse, I need to report it,' because if you don't report this, you could end up being charged," he added.
Pam Tiernan, a member at the megachurch for over 30 years, said that the church has done the right thing by asking the congregation to speak up should they be made aware of other incidents of abuse.
"That's how you heal," Tiernan said. "You don't sweep anything under the rug."
Victory Christian Center did not respond to emails and phone calls from The Christian Post by time of press.