Port Arthur pastor using donations toward private retirement account, suit claims

Kelly Holleran Apr. 12, 2013, 11:45am

The members of a Port Arthur church have filed suit against the man who they claim is stealing money that rightfully belongs to the church and who is threatening to have suspicious members arrested for trespassing. 

Jessie Jackson, Elizabeth Woods, Julyette Jackson, Camella Williams and Aaron Spears, who are all members of Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church on 18th Street in Port Arthur, claim they recently discovered that the church's pastor, the Rev. Kurt J. Washington, has been squirreling away money donated to the church and investing it into his personal retirement account.

Unbeknownst to the members of Mount Calvary, Washington formed a 501c(3) corporation called Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church of Port Arthur in 2010.

Now, Washington is claiming that he has complete control of the church’s assets, according to the complaint filed March 30 in Jefferson County District Court.

However, the plaintiffs say Washington has utilized a portion of the more than $800,000 donated to the church over the past five years to invest in his personal retirement account and to pay relatives.

After the plaintiffs protested Washington’s actions, he attempted to remove them from the church, the suit states.

“Even though at a regularly scheduled church gathering the congregation voted to terminate the services of defendant, he has responded by stating he had authority to remove all employees of the church and cancel the membership of any protesting church member,” the complaint says. “Defendant further has threatened to have the Port Arthur police arrest any member coming to the church premises with criminal trespass.”

The plaintiffs are seeking a mandatory injunction ordering Washington to account for all the funds he received as donations to Mount Calvary. They also seek a restraining order and a permanent injunction that would prohibit Washington from interfering with their access to church facilities, plus attorney’s fees.

They will be represented by Carl A. Parker of The Parker Law Firm in Port Arthur.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court.

Case No. B194-204

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