After a woman came forward saying she was assaulted while volunteering at The Potter’s House on Sunday, March 25, the church has responded amid outcries from the public.
Audrey Stevenson, 22, had an argument with a church administrator named Rhonda Lewis, who is a church elder. She told Stevenson that she should not have been on stage. However, Stevenson went to pastor Patrick E. Winfield II’s wife, Veronica Winfield, over the matter, who said they have “no regulation on me serving under any type of restriction.” She added a meeting would be held with the elder later on.
Yet the debate grew heated with Lewis saying once she put her foot down about Stevenson being off the stage, it was a done deal. She also told Stevenson she doesn’t “do lies” or “manipulation.”
Then, a security guard named Brandon Amie stepped in and Stevenson, who had been given an Outstanding Volunteer Award by the church in December, was slammed down and handcuffed after Stevenson tried to leave the room.
“Stop, let me go! I didn’t do anything, I didn’t do anything!” she pleads. You can hear her tell the security guard Brandon to remove his knee from her back,
A police officer arrived and Stevenson and Amie explain what happened before Stevenson is led outside the church.
“I’m done with this ministry,” she tells authorities. “I’m leaving.”
Photos from the incident show Stevenson had a cut on her hand and bruises on her face and leg.
In a separate video posted on Stevenson’s Facebook page, Stevenson’s mother, who said she’s been a member of the T.D. Jakes-founded church since 2014, responded to the incident.
“These are despicable, ludicrous, demoralizing, hideous acts happening in the church of God,” she said. “And these are the people who are in leadership, I want to tell you if they get away with this, they’ll do this to somebody else’s child. Or to someone else’s sister. This is a woman. Audrey is 22 years old. 5′ 2″. I’m short. I’m only 5′ 5″ and they would do this to her? What kind of people are these?”
By Sunday night, The Potter’s House of Fort Worth had issued a statement from Pastor Whitfield to what he called an “unfortunate situation.”
“The incident captured partly on video and posted on Facebook gives a partial but incomplete reflection of all of the issues involved,” he said. “The Potter’s House of Fort Worth like most churches welcomes and cherishes all of its volunteers who are the life’s blood of the organization. When those in service are removed, we expect for that process to occur privately to protect the dignity of all involved.”
He added that while things were not done away from the public eye, an incident report was filed and an investigation is ongoing. He also noted that the security personnel involved in the incident have been “placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.”
“The safety and well-being of the Potter’s House of Fort Worth community is our utmost concern,” he concluded. “Please continue to pray for our church leadership and for all who serve and worship here.”
Bishop Jakes himself, who is The Potter’s House’s lead pastor, has also issued a statement.
“I’m extremely disappointed and apologize for how Ms. Stevenson was treated and the ill-conduct she received,” he said Tuesday, March 27. “Privately, we will be reaching out to Ms. Stevenson to offer her the apology she rightly deserves.
“The safety officer in question’s tenure with us has been a positive one, this unfortunate incident, however, has endangered his continuance with our ministry pending the outcome of a comprehensive review which is consistent with our protocols,” he continued. “Effective immediately, I have ordered a policy review with all of our safety officers to ensure that delicate situations like these are handled appropriately. …
“We proudly and warmly open our church doors each and every week to thousands of parishioners each week from all backgrounds,” he concluded. “We are taking immediate steps to ensure our employees continue serving our community and the communities of the world with excellence. Protecting the safety and dignity of all who worship at any of our locations will continue to be paramount.”
Still, many online are outraged and they’ve let their feelings be known.
Sweetie, I’m sorry u had endure this. This was Very inappropriately handled & it’s sad the church has gotten so far away from Love.
— ButterFlyyy (@ButterFlyyy07) March 27, 2018
Hello my sister u shouldn’t have been assault don’t no woman in this world shouldn’t never go through that
— justin gilmore (@fbujkbvc) March 27, 2018
@TPHASSAULT Audrey please don't fall for that TD Jake's response they just trying to sweep the mess under rug like it never happened sue everyone involved including Potters house
— J Russell (@tbrady23565) March 27, 2018
To Jakes, Whitfield & The Potters House:
So you still have yet to reach out to that young lady? Wow, but ohhh if you was going to be on Oprah you would’ve start advertising last year. Shame on you Pastor and your flock….
— LaShunda MsBoo Harris (@msboo1968) March 27, 2018