Md. pastor is named in sex suit Minister fathered 2 children, suit says

August 15, 1991|By M. Dion Thompson

A Baltimore man, who along with his wife sought marriage counseling from their minister, filed suit yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court alleging the clergyman had sexual relations with the wife and fathered two of her children.

Walter M. Jackson is seeking $1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages from Melvin H. Shird, the Solid Rock Apostolic Faith Church, Inc., and the Pentecostal Churches of Apostolic Faith Association, Inc. The Jacksons have since left the church.

The suit charges that Mr. Shird misrepresented himself, was negligent and intentionally inflicted severe emotional damage on Jackson.

Violet Shird, who succeeded her husband as minister of the Solid Rock Apostolic Faith Church and answered the telephone at the Shird home yesterday, would not comment on the suit.

The suit alleges that during the two-year period that the Jacksons sought marriage counseling -- from 1988 to 1990 -- Mr. Shird initiated a sexual relationship with Mr. Jackson's wife.

Mr. Shird has admitted in court to fathering two of Mr. Jackson's wife's children.

The suit also states that based on Mr. Shird's past, the church "knew or should have known" he would engage in the conduct mentioned. Mr. Jackson's attorney, Jeff E. Messing, would not elaborate on the evidence he has to support the allegation. The vTC suit states that Mr. Shird's conduct was "malicious, willful and intentional."

A study released in June said there was evidence that between 10 percent and 23 percent of clergy nationwide have sexual contact with parishioners, clients or employees in a professional relationship and that the statistics point to a growing spiritual and legal crisis for many denominations.

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