Pastor can keep preaching at Port Arthur church

David Yates Sep. 22, 2011, 9:25am

First Sixth Street Baptist Church, Port Arthur

A Thursday hearing to issue a temporary injunction against a Port Arthur pastor ended with no ruling from Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, thus allowing the reverend to keep on preaching.

On Sept. 8, David Joseph, chairman of the First Sixth Street Baptist Church, obtained a temporary restraining order against the Rev. Donald Toussaint, who allegedly hid his criminal past and misused church funds.

Court records show the TRO expired on Sept. 21.

A hearing for a temporary injunction was held the following day, with the judge declining to make a ruling.

Toussaint, who changed his name from Abram to Toussaint after being convicted of robbery in 1982, was terminated as pastor by the church board on Aug. 30 at a church business meeting, court papers say.

However, during the hearing, Toussaint's attorney, David Bernsen, said that no announcement was made to the church congregation that the meeting would include a vote to remove Toussaint as pastor.

He said a small group of people "secretly" tried to remove Toussaint without informing "the body of Christ" in attempt to "hijack the church."

Bernsen argued that only two-dozen people voted to fire Toussaint when the church boasts a congregation of hundreds.

Plaintiff's attorney Langstan Adams countered the argument by saying that Toussaint never signed a contract with First Sixth Street Baptist and was made aware from the very beginning that he could be fired during a regular church business meeting.

The petition states that the congregation was unaware that Toussaint was charged with capital murder, kidnapping and armed robbery in 1982 for his role in the robbery of a convenience store, which ended in the deaths of two people.

Although he was originally sentenced to death on March 29, 1984, Toussaint's conviction was overturned and he accepted a plea agreement to armed robbery in 1992 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Once Toussaint became pastor of First Sixth Street Baptist, he agreed to salary of $72,000 but asked that $50,000 of his salary be declared as a housing allowance in order to evade paying taxes, the petition alleges.

Adams argued that Toussaint's questionable use of church funds endangers the non-profit organization's tax-exempt status.

The 62-page lawsuit goes on to list several more actions the congregation claims were taken by Toussaint and defendant Clyde Levy.

Both defendants are accused of scheming to misuse church funds.

Case No. E190-872

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