Archbishop Archie Livingston Foxworth, the prominent senior pastor of Grace Church of All Nations church in Dorchester, Massachusetts, who blessed Gov. Charlie Baker of that state when he was elected in 2014, was arrested in a prostitution sting Tuesday after agreeing to pay $150 for sex.
Foxworth also serves as the "senior shepherd" of the Pentecostal Episcopal Church International, "a covering ministry for Pastors and churches who have a desire to be connected to a national and international Christian reformation."
According to the Boston Herald, Foxworth was arrested with nine other would-be johns. He was arraigned Wednesday in Boston Municipal Court on a single charge of paying for sexual conduct. He was released without bail after a brief appearance.
Police told the Herald that detectives from Boston Police Department's Human Trafficking Unit posed a female on Backpage.com and they were contacted by Foxworth and the other men. Foxworth agreed to pay $150 for sex and went to an address on Pine Street to complete the transaction. When he arrived, detectives called the number the pastor gave them and it rang. He was arrested and his cellphone was confiscated as evidence.
The pastor and his attorney, Hassan Williams, who tried to have the charge dropped and replaced with a civil infraction in court, declined making any comment to the Herald on Wednesday.
Suffolk prosecutor Jessica Meyer argued against Williams' request before BMC Judge Thomas Horgan, saying: "This is a matter that your honor has arraigned for almost 10 other defendants today and no action was taken with them regarding a civil infraction."
The charge was not dropped and Foxworth will have to return to court on July 26.
Boston Police Department Commissioner William B. Evans said the arrest of the pastor and the other johns were part of "a constant effort to address the demand for purchased sex."
"Over the past two weeks, the unit has arrested approximately 25 'johns' in Brighton and downtown, including the 10 arrested in Chinatown (Tuesday) night, and the BPD will continue to target the criminals that buy sex," he said in a statement. "This is not a victimless crime, and by targeting the demand for human trafficking, we intend to eliminate the abuse of the victims that become caught up in this trade."
Calls to Grace Church of All Nations by The Christian Post seeking comment Friday morning went unanswered.
The church's Facebook page shows that Foxworth's arrest came on the tail-end of a 50-day prayer campaign expected to end on Sunday, June 4.
"Prayer is meant to change us. When we spend time with the living God, we look and sound more like Him. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, But we all, with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. More than anything the world desperately needs Jesus and you and I as His people are His hands and feet. We are to be Jesus to the World around us. We may be the only Jesus that anyone sees. Take some time to consider that. Do I pray that I can hear from the Lord than be changed in His presence or it's just a list of gimmies? When was the last time prayer actually changed you?" a post from the church's Facebook page on Thursday said.
Foxworth, 68, has been leading the congregation of more than 1,200 for 35 years, according to his church. He is married to Karen L. Foxworth and is the father of six children as well as six grandchildren.
Reacting to the news Thursday, Lizzy Guyton, a spokesman for the Massachusetts governor, told the Herald, "Gov. Baker is saddened by this news and is confident the courts will examine the facts and reach an appropriate decision.
"The Baker-Polito Administration has made combating human trafficking a priority by working across state government to enact anti-trafficking policies and proposing legislation to give law enforcement more tools to crack down on trafficking-related crimes."