Recommended

Assemblies of God branch sued pastor accused of having sex with at least 3 congregants

David Stocker, Jr.
David Stocker, Jr. |

The Peninsular Florida District Council of The Assemblies of God, a branch of the world's largest Pentecostal denomination, recently sued several Brave Church of Miami board members for allowing their now-former pastor to continue leading even though an investigation found "significant incidents of gross sexual misconduct and immoral actions."

The lawsuit was filed in late May but was recently made public by The Miami New Times. A settlement was reached earlier this month. 

The Peninsular Florida District Council alleged that Brave Church Miami board members Yarilend Taboada, Josephine LeJuez and Nivia Pena, failed to protect congregants when they allowed Pastor David Stocker Jr. to continue leading, although an investigation found him biblically unfit as a leader.  

The defendants were also accused of trying to illegally break away from the denomination to keep Stocker in the pulpit.

"This is first and foremost an action to protect the integrity, sanctity and morality of the world's largest Pentecostal denominational fellowship and its parishioners by preventing Defendant David Stocker Jr. from continuing to wrongfully operate in his ministerial capacity at Brave Church following an investigation and finding by PenFlorida that he is guilty of significant incidents of gross sexual misconduct and immoral actions," the lawsuit reads.

PenFlorida also sought damages for the board members' "breaches of their fiduciary duties to the members of the Brave Church congregation in covering up the misconduct of their pastor, failing to protect the congregation and failing to adhere to the bylaws governing the church."

These actions, the suit claims, were to the "detriment of the parishioners who are Assemblies of God members."

The lawsuit seeks to keep Brave Church leaders from taking over the church property and cutting ties with PenFlorida and the General Council of the Assemblies of God "without adhering to the required contractual procedures for doing so."

PenFlorida did not immediately respond to questions from The Christian Post on Monday.

Attorney Kristin Ahr, a partner at the law firm Nelson Mullins, which is representing Brave Church and its board, said in a statement to CP that "PenFlorida learned [after the lawsuit was filed on May 24] that the Brave Church Board Members were not aware of the full nature and extent of the conduct of David Stocker, Jr. as alleged in the lawsuit and the prior related investigation by PenFlorida."

"Because Brave Church and the Board Members quickly and amicably resolved the lawsuit with PenFlorida, they were not required to file any responsive pleadings to the Lawsuit, but Brave Church and the Board Members specifically deny all material allegations made in the Lawsuit which relate to them and their conduct," Ahr said.

The attorney said Brave Church and the board members agreed to maintain the church's affiliation with PenFlorida and the Assemblies of God as a sovereign local assembly. 

"Among other settlement terms, the parties also agreed to continue forward in a spirit of Godly cooperation and fellowship. Brave Church maintains all right, title and interest in and to its Westchester real property and PenFlorida dissolved its Lis Pendens on the property," Ahr continued. "Brave Church and the Board Members are pleased to have this matter resolved and look forward to continuing sharing the word of God with His people in Miami and beyond."

Ahr further noted that Stocker is no longer affiliated with Brave Church as they "parted ways on May 27."  

According to The Miami New Times, PenFlorida, Brave Church and the four board members filed a joint stipulation dismissing the lawsuit subject to the terms of a settlement agreement on July 6. 

Brave Church has been a member congregation with the Assemblies of God within PenFlorida for over 75 years. Stocker became pastor in 2014 when he was still married to his ex-wife, Christina. The two divorced in August 2020.

While Stocker was busy with his multiple alleged relationships with women in the church, he told congregants at Brave Church as recently as January that his only significant other had been the Holy Spirit since his divorce.

"Can I just be real? Some of you can't handle a vulnerable, a real pastor, but this is what you got. You know what I've been doing the last couple years? I've been going to every marriage conference I could find. I show up at marriage conferences, they're like, 'where's your significant other?' I'm like the Holy Spirit. He's here," he said to chuckles during a January sermon titled "Miraculous."

"It is awkward, it is embarrassing. But you know what your pastor is doing in my season of singleness? I'm collecting jars. I'm collecting wisdom so that when God delivers the miracle, I don't mess the miracle up," he added.

According to the lawsuit, five days before that confession on January 23, a woman identified as Woman No. 1 gave two written statements to PenFlorida that she and Stocker went on a date for the first time on April 7, 2019, and had sex while he was still legally married, the lawsuit said.  

She detailed the extent of their relationship and how she eventually discovered he was also having sexual relationships with two other women in the church.

To help corroborate her statements, Woman No. 1 also provided PenFlorida with hundreds of text messages, photographs and videos evidencing the affair and Stocker's indiscretions, including "his tendency to use alcohol (which the AG does not condone) and act erratically."

According to Woman No. 1, Stocker, who at the time was separated from his now ex-wife but was still legally married, connected with her via social media and began a secretive affair that was on and off for the next couple of years.

"The two traveled to New York City on two occasions, and traveled to California on another occasion, all while continuing to engage in sexual relations. For one of these trips, Woman #1 reported that Stocker purchased her flight with the Church's money," the lawsuit said.

To hide the relationship, Woman No. 1 said she and Stocker stayed at hotels in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

"Stocker's then-wife became suspicious of the affair and conveyed these suspicions to PenFlorida. When PenFlorida confronted Stocker about the affair, he lied and denied it," the lawsuit said.

Four months after she started her relationship with Stocker, Woman No. 1 claimed she learned he was also "romantically involved" with another woman from the congregation identified as Woman No. 2, who "remains Stocker's girlfriend."

"Around July of 2020, Woman #1 confirmed that Stocker was cheating on her with yet a third woman ('Woman #3'). Upon learning this fact, Woman #1 ended her relationship with Stocker, though the two later rekindled and remained on and off for another year," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit further detailed instances of Stocker's alcohol abuse, which witnesses said made him emotional and aggressive.

"For example, according to a witness who observed Stocker and Woman #2 at a Miami Heat basketball game on November 4, 2021, the two 'were so drunk both of them attempted to walk onto the court. The police intervened to stop them and David Stocker Jr. got very angry and aggressively screamed at the police,'" the lawsuit said.

After reviewing the evidence presented against Stocker, the Presbytery Board and the Executive Committee for PenFlorida concluded that he was guilty of sexual misconduct. He was informed of their findings on April 15 and notified that he would be dismissed from the fellowship.

Stocker, however, rejected the decision and sought to go against church regulations, prompting the lawsuit.

Contact: leonardo.blair@christianpost.com Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

Free CP Newsletters

Join over 250,000 others to get the top stories curated daily, plus special offers!

Sponsored

Most Popular

More In Church & Ministries