Georgia Pastor, Wife Arrested After 8 Found Locked In Basement  

In Summary

The eight people all had mental and physical disabilities and ranged in age from 25 to 65.  

A Georgia pastor and his wife were arrested and charged after police found eight people locked in the basement of their home.  

According to NBC News, Curtis Bankston and his wife, Sophia Simm-Bankston, were charged with false imprisonment. The Griffin Police Department said the couple was operating an unlicensed group home out of their rented home in Griffin, Georgia.  

The Griffin Fire Department responded to a call that someone was having a seizure. Officials noticed a deadbolt on the basement door, and medical personnel had to climb through a window to reach the patient, police said.  

The police learned the people in the basement had mental and physical disabilities and were “essentially imprisoned against their will, which created an extreme hazard as the individuals could not exist the residence if there was an emergency.”  

The Bankstons were in charge of the finances, medications and public benefit of the people they kept locked in the basement. Police also said they sometimes denied them medicine and medical care. 

Police called out the couple’s abuse of power as religious leaders. “It’s 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,” police said in a statement.  

Curtis Bankston’s attorney, Dexter Wimbish, said the police statements contained misinformation, according to 11 Alive. “First, One Step of Faith 2nd Chance Ministries has not been operating a group home but a Christian Ministry that supplies room and board to individuals who have oftentimes been homeless or wards of the state,” Wimbish said. “Everybody inside this home was here on their own free will, they were free to come and go as they please. Noe one was kept, held hostage.”  

If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.   

RELATED: Tennessee Pastor Tackles Gun Waving Man During Church Service 

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