Lawyers for megachurch pastor John Gray said Monday that he is being blackmailed and extorted after the leader of Relentless Church in South Carolina was accused of engaging in another inappropriate relationship.
"There are allegations that there were phone conversations between the two parties, and that’s essentially the extent of the allegations," attorney Devon Puriefoy of the law firm Truluck Thomason told Greenville News. "When you take her own words, she says there was no affair, no physical contact, they never met each other, they never saw each other."
Puriefoy was not immediately available to discuss the situation when contacted for comment by The Christian Post Tuesday.
The latest allegation against Gray came last Friday from a 48-year-old Houston woman who identified herself as “Mary” during an interview with online personality Tasha K, which was broadcast on YouTube. The Houston woman said during her interactions with Gray, she sent him partially nude photos at his requests and he video-chatted with her while revealing his underwear. She claimed that he also met with her in Houston and invited her to visit his home and she declined because she feels he may have wanted to sleep with her.
Mary explained in the interview that she connected with Gray after the death of her brother’s wife in April as the coronavirus pandemic was in the early stages of sweeping the nation. Her brother, who is a pastor in New Jersey, and Gray, she said, are friends. Gray spoke at the memorial service for her sister-in-law.
Mary said after the service she told Gray thanks for his words of support on Instagram in the comments section of a photo of his wife — a photo she said he would go on to delete. Gray later requested her friendship on Instagram and began liking her posts. A month ago, she said, Gray asked her where she worked and she told him she was a hairstylist in Houston and told him the name of her business.
“A couple days after that he called my job and I answered the phone. I’m the manager of the hair salon and I answered the phone and he said ‘Hey Mary, it’s John Gray,’” she said.
Mary said she was shocked and told him it wasn’t a good time to talk but she gave him her personal number, which she described as a bad decision in hindsight. Due to the relationship between Gray and her brother, she said she felt comfortable sharing it at the time.
“I just felt him and my brother were cool; they’ve known each other for a long time,” she said.
She explained that over time her conversations with Gray became sexual, noting that he asked for her measurements and requested explicit photos.
Tasha K shared a video on Instagram highlighting Gray complaining to Mary that his wife doesn’t cook for his family and noted that Mary also shared evidence with her of Gray inviting her to fly with him to Cabo, Mexico, during the pandemic.
“#PastorJohnGray Facetimed his sidechick Mary! He says his wife doesn't cook and feeds their son Pizza every night, He asks his sidechick to fly with him to Cabo privately during the pandemic!” wrote Tasha K.
“He was in Alabama where his wife is from. He told me he was getting a divorce … He facetimed me and he was laying in the bed. He was showing me his underwear … I was so shocked by it all,” Mary said.
Despite Mary’s claims, however, Puriefoy told Greenville News that there is evidence of extortion in the case and it will be handed to the Greenville County Solicitor's Office and the Greenville office of the FBI to be investigated.
"A formal investigation will be conducted into extortion claims about the individual that's making the allegations. There's clear evidence of extortion from the release of this information," Puriefoy said. "I don't think there's a question under South Carolina law or Texas law or federal law."
Gray had earlier told his congregation that his wife, Aventer, discovered that he had started “listening to the wrong voices and let some people get too close … she set it off just like a good wife should.”
Aventer Gray then revealed to their congregation that one of those wrong voices belonged to a “strange woman,” whom she fought off with prayer and Scripture.
"So you want me to leave my husband because you spoke to the 16-year-old that couldn’t get a date? And he listened. So I’m supposed to leave my husband because you spoke to a place of brokenness that had not yet been submitted back to the Father? But because I know the tricks of the enemy and I’m learning them every day, I can stand here in boldness for everybody that tried to sneak in, thank you, because I got closer to God because of it. I got in that Word … come on,” Aventer Gray said. “I put Scripture on that strange woman. I put Scripture on that strange woman. She don’t want it with me and she don’t want it with y’all, amen!”
The pastor revealed last year on talk show "The Real" that the situation with the "strange woman" was "an emotional affair." He said he confided in someone when he was having marriage difficulty and admitted it was wrong.