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Pastor & Wife Arrested After 8 Disabled People Were Found Locked In Their Basement!

Pastor & Wife Arrested After Eight People In 'Unlicensed Group Home' Found Locked In Their Basement!

A Georgia pastor and his wife have been arrested after allegedly holding at least eight physically and mentally disabled people against their will.

Those are the claims being made by law enforcement officials in Griffin, Georgia — a city about an hour north of Atlanta — after 55-year-old Curtis Keith Bankston and his wife, 56-year-old Sophia Simm-Bankston (both pictured in mugshots, above), were arrested late last week.

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According to cops, first responders became aware of the situation after arriving to an emergency call about a person apparently having a seizure at a home in the city. Once there, paramedics were forced to climb through a window to reach the patient down in the basement of the house because the door was locked from the outside with a dead-bolt, according to NBC News.

Paramedics reported the concerning situation to police, who began to investigate. Quickly, cops determined a group of people had been locked in the basement as part of what the news outlet termed an “unlicensed group home.” Upon further investigation, police uncovered that Bankston and his wife were the ones renting the house and operating the group living situation without a license.

In a statement released to the media, the Griffin Police Department claims Bankston and his wife kept the residents “locked in” during certain times of day, and “had essentially imprisoned them against their will.” Cops also say “most, if not all” of the individuals in the basement were “mentally and/or physically disabled,” with their ages ranging from 25 to 65.

The unlicensed group home was being run under an organization known as One Step of Faith 2nd Chance Church, with Bankston as the apparent pastor. Police further allege the couple was controlling the victims’ finances, medications, and welfare benefits, and that the victims “had been denied their medications and, in some instances, medical care as well.”

In their press release, the Griffin PD added:

“It is both frightening and disgusting to see the degree to which these individuals have been taken advantage of by people who were in a position of trust.”

Bankston was arrested late last week and charged with false imprisonment. Two days later, Simm-Bankston was also arrested, with the same charges filed against her.

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After the couple’s arrests, their attorney Dexter Wimbish held a press conference denying the allegations against them and their ministry organization.

Speaking out about the false imprisonment allegations, the attorney said:

“At no time was anybody held against their will. There was no kidnapping. There is no fraud here. This is simply a Christian man who was following his calling to help those who are in need. We cannot sit by and allow ministry to be attacked.”

Here is more on Wimbish’s press conference and the ongoing investigation against the Bankstons, from 11 Alive (below):

The Griffin PD has since contacted Georgia’s Division of Aging Services to conduct a deeper investigation.

In the meantime, police report that all the people found in the basement have been placed in the care of the state’s Department of Human Services.

We can only hope they get whatever care and recovery they may need.

[Image via CBS 46 Atlanta/YouTube/Griffin Police Department]

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Jan 24, 2022 11:37am PDT