Woman tells police House of Hope Atlanta megachurch covered up rape then threatened her
It was 3:31 p.m. Sunday when Octavia felt compelled enough to tell police in Georgia about “a rape” that occurred four years ago that she alleges officials at House of Hope Atlanta have been trying to cover up since they were told about it.
Someone from the storied 15,000-member church, led by Pastor E. Dewey Smith Jr., she told Cobb County police officer C.B. Neill, had left a threatening message in her mailbox.
“She found a small white piece of paper in her mailbox on September 1st that read, ‘Octavia Stop NOW or Else 83019,’” Neill wrote in his report.
The threat, left in her mailbox on Friday, came after the alleged rape victim — whom The Christian Post has chosen not to identify in this report beyond her first name for safety reasons — was interviewed by popular online media personality Larry Reid about the alleged sexual assault she endured. In that interview, Reid said Octavia told him she was drugged and raped.
“I have a confession and the details of what happened but they covered it up,” Reid told CP about the allegations against the church. “There was a rape that occurred ... drugged and raped.”
According to Neill, Octavia believes the threatening message was meant to keep her silent.
“[Redacted] believed this to be a threat in reference to her speaking to a blogger named Larry Reed (sic) about a rape that occurred four years ago being covered up by the organization House of Hope Atlanta,” the report said.
“Reed posted the interview on his blog located on the Patreon.com website even after [redacted] told Reed she did not give consent for the interview to be shared,” it continued.
Octavia did not respond to requests from CP for an interview but Reid told CP she alleged that she was raped by a then staff member inside a home the church had helped her acquire during a vulnerable period of her life.
Following her interview with Reid, she’s been receiving threats and is now too afraid to talk.
“Since the interview and according to [redacted], lawyers employed by House of Hope Atlanta have now attempted litigation against Reed (sic) and [redacted] believes the note left in her mailbox is from someone within this organization who did not want [redacted] interview made public. They are now threatening [redacted] via this note in hopes to silence her,” Neill wrote.
In a recent text message to Reid after she was threatened, Octavia allegedly stated “they made their point.” She won’t talk anymore.
“I know how much bigger this all is but I’m not emotionally strong enough to keep it going. They made their point,” she wrote. “My mom is BEGGING me to let it go. I appreciate you bringing the light. There will be others I’m sure. I’m passing the torch.”
She also wants the threats to stop and according to Officer Neill, she requested an investigation “to determine where the note came from and to attempt to stop further harassing communications and threats from this organization.”
Ron Clemons, a House of Hope official and church representative who's the only person authorized to speak to the press, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. Pastor Smith was also not at the church, and the staff member whom CP spoke with said he had no set schedule.
Reid said even though lawyers representing the church have also tried to intimidate him, he is not afraid. He told CP that Octavia told him that when she told church officials about the alleged rape, she was ambushed and pressured into signing legal agreements to keep her from discussing the alleged rape.
He argued that the church has a history of using legal agreements to keep negative information about the church and their leaders out of the press. He also admitted that last October he, too, was tricked into signing one for $10,000. It effectively stopped him from reporting on a child Smith allegedly fathered out of wedlock.
This was also alleged in a lawsuit filed in the Henry County Superior Court in March 2018 to establish paternity for the child and establish child support. It identifies the plaintiff and the defendant by their initials of S.W. and E.S., respectively.
When CP began asking questions about this lawsuit in the summer of 2018, Tanya Mitchell Graham, the attorney on record for the plaintiff, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A source close to the plaintiff, however, had reliably informed CP that the defendant in the case is Pastor Smith. He was said to be current on child support payments to care for a son that was born in 2017.
A clerk at the Henry County Superior Court in Georgia told CP last summer that the case which remains public record was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff on July 16, 2018, and suggested the plaintiff and defendant identified themselves by their initials for privacy.
“I guess they wanted to be protected because it just has initials,” the clerk said of the case.
When asked what the dismissal of the case meant on the court files, CP’s source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the case had been attracting too much attention in Henry County at the time so the plaintiff, who is seeking more privacy, chose to move the matter to a different court.
Reid told CP that Smith confessed to him that he had fathered a child out of wedlock.
He said he stopped reporting on the story last year after he entered into the confidential “consultant agreement” with Smith for $10,000, which barred him from reporting anything that would negatively impact Smith’s business or his family.
A copy of the agreement between Smith and Reid viewed by CP shows that if either party breached the agreement they would suffer monetary damages of $250,000.
Reid alleged that he has recorded evidence showing that Smith breached the agreement on at least two occasions, which caused him to start reporting on the story again.
“When he first breached it I gave him a sit-down opportunity,” Reid said.
During that meeting, Smith denied breaching the agreement but “he told me he was the father. But said he would never claim that child publicly,” Reid said.
This admission by Smith, Reid noted, was made in the presence of lawyers for both parties.
Reid, who is a former pastor, said it has been reported to him that both Octavia and the woman who sued Smith for child support have been threatened and they are both scared.
He said one of the women claimed she was recently “ran off the road” while driving.
“These women are easily intimidated and they are concerned about their safety,” Reid said.
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