Monday, March 05, 2012

Sex abuse allegations against pastor of North Nashville church prompt scrutiny of other problems

Bishop Joseph Walker III's current situation appears to be getting uglier:

after two decades of unmitigated success, Walker is facing controversy on two fronts.

Four former parishioners have filed suit, claiming Walker and other church leaders sexually abused them.

Walker’s nonprofit organization, J. W. Walker Ministries Inc., lost its federal tax exemption last month for failing to file tax returns for three years.

The charity’s records also show Walker donating funds from the sale of tapes of his sermons to the charity, which then paid a private production company he owns without disclosing his involvement.

The church denies any wrongdoing on Walker’s part. Church spokesman John Van Mol said that not filing tax returns was a mistake the charity is trying to rectify ....

Exodus Productions, a private company run by Walker, also has had financial issues. Records show state and federal tax liens have been filed against that company. While a $28,728 federal tax lien from 2006 was paid off in 2008, two additional federal tax liens totaling $13,678 were filed in 2009 and are still outstanding, as is a state tax lien for an unspecified amount.

Van Mol said that Exodus was shut down within the past two years and that the church assumed the company’s assets and liabilities.

Tsk. Tsk.

J.W. Walker Ministries "declined to update" its audit record at Middle Tennessee's non-profit database of accountability. Refusing to be transparent suggests to me that the ministry has no sense of accountability toward donors or clients.

His primary accuser's scruples do not seem problem-free. She was censored by the Tennessee Bar Association for divulging sensitive client information. She lost a lawsuit filed by an employee whom she owed wages and bonus, and she has a big IRS tax lien. Nevertheless, she is not a prominent, powerful North Nashville leader. I've attended a number of community meetings and encountered Mount Zion leaders. They are instrumental in the life of our community. With that kind of influence comes great responsibility, in this case being publicly accountable about the ministry's sketchy financials.

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