Pastor Robert McKenzie, leader of Word of Faith Ministries, which he co-founded in Minnesota with his wife, has been charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly molesting a 17-year-old girl.
In a criminal complaint cited by the Star Tribune, the teenager told police that she was in her bathroom in May when the 49-year-old McKenzie touched her sexually. She told him no and grabbed his hands in an effort to get him to stop. He touched her again on Nov. 8, in the kitchen of her home.
McKenzie who resides in Brooklyn Park, reportedly "acknowledged the assault during a conversation" with the teenager.
"He admitted to touching victim inappropriately and said, 'I had a perverted thought,'" said the criminal complaint.
Each count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct against McKenzie carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, a $30,000 fine, as well as conditional release.
The pastor, who was charged and jailed on Nov. 18, is out on bail until a Dec. 16 hearing.
McKenzie and his wife, Tayonna McKenzie, have six children together. According to the church’s website, they started their ministry in the living room of their home seven years ago. When their following grew, they moved the ministry to a building in Minneapolis.
They would eventually acquire a building in Crystal for $1.3 million but said they reportedly lost it to the city under eminent domain and are meeting at the Double Tree Hotel in St. Louis Park.
“Here at WOFM you don't just join a church, you join a family. The members here are faithful, they are welcoming, and they are continually growing and increasing as they are taught the word of God. Pastor Robert and First Lady McKenzie always have their arms open to embrace the people at Word of Faith Ministries,” the church notes in its About Us section.
“Pastor Robert McKenzie is truly an anointed teacher, breaking down the word in the simplest of terms, even a child can understand. He preaches with revelation, assuring people come to know Christ on a personal level. It is Pastor McKenzie's heart desire that people win in life, having God's best for their lives,” the church adds.
Just two weeks before his arrest, McKenzie explained in a sermon how he found help in God during a period when his marriage was “on the rocks.”
“When things are tough, don’t panic. Ask God for the strategy. I remember when my marriage was on the rocks. I sought God about the direction and man did He guide me. He gave me instructions. And the instructions that He gave … it didn’t change my wife, it changed me,” he said.
“And because I’ve changed, glory to God, it gave the environment for Him to change my wife because she began to see Christ in me, the hope of Glory. She went from seeing the bald head harsh man to seeing this gentle, kind, serving man of God,” he added.