Longtime Tennessee-based televangelist and Bible teacher Perry Stone warned his followers against trusting secular media Monday, days after a local publication accused him of sexual misconduct.
“Over 32 years I have been involved with television. ... I’m involved with media, I know how media works,” Stone said in a YouTube video titled “The Truth Behind Today’s Media.”
“It’s not always about what’s true or not, it’s about the advertising dollars,” he continued, explaining the relationship between the media and advertising and the need to make money.
“Information can be twisted by the god of this world so easily. So when you’re dealing with a Christian system who wants to be honest ... secular individuals, it has been proven, they will give a false scenario and then you know, two, three years down the road come back and apologize for it and I don’t want to go into collusions and all that,” he said.
Citing multiple sources connected to Stone and his Perry Stone Ministries, a report published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Christmas Day said the Federal Bureau of Investigation began looking into sexual misconduct claims against the minister last month, but the agency has not confirmed this.
Perry Stone Ministries also did not immediately respond when contacted by The Christian Post on Monday morning.
More than a dozen people connected or formerly connected to Stone's ministry told the Chattanooga publication that they were worried about what appears to be a lack of accountability in the ministry a year-and-a-half after claims of inappropriate conduct involving women were first made.
Some expressed outrage that the board of directors at Voice of Evangelism, Stone’s international evangelistic outreach, did not involve law enforcement or fully investigate claims of misconduct against the televangelist. These allegations included "groping, unwanted kissing and showing women he was aroused,” the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.
In an update from Israel posted on Facebook on Sunday morning, Stone suggested his ministry was coming under attack without mentioning the allegations of sexual misconduct.
“Days ago, we sent a voice file of the words spoken by the Holy Spirit that was spoken recently, to be translated (not interpreted), to several Arab friends, as there [were] three different dialects. All three sent back the same message from what they could understand. One part was a warning for me personally, from the Lord, exposing some people who were plotting and making war against me and the ministry,” Stone said, in part.
John Rodriguez, an outside spokesperson for Voice of Evangelism, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the manner in which the allegations against Stone were handled was "appropriate and intensive."
"The conclusions reached and actions taken by the board were determined by the board to be reasonable and appropriate and in the best interests of Voices of Evangelism, its supporters and even its detractors," he said in a statement.
During a special service on Nov. 30, when he tried to explain why some people were no longer with his ministry, an unidentified woman interrupted his address to suggest it was because he is a “nasty perv.”
“Why don't you tell them the real reason why they left? Because you kept touching them,” she said before she was removed by security.
Stone later explained that the allegations against him were misinterpreted social behavior that is seen as normal in Italian culture.
“I am not a perfect man," he said. "People have taken me hugging and kissing them on the cheek wrong. I quit that. I'm Italian. My whole family holds hands, rubs backs. I didn't know you can look at somebody and say, 'Hey, how you doing?' and they can take it wrong.”
He further noted that God told him that his accusers will have to answer for their behavior toward him when they die.