Scandal Rocks the First AME Church | NBC Southern California

Scandal Rocks the First AME Church

Dueling lawsuits have been filed regarding an alleged sexual affair between the senior pastor and a former reverend.

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    First AME Church in South Los Angeles

    The First AME Church in South Los Angeles is one of LA's most renowned African American churches, but now the house of worship is at the center of a legal battle involving the highest officials.

    Brenda Lamothe, a former reverend at the church, filed a lawsuit last week accusing Senior Pastor Dr. John J. Hunter of sexual harassment.

    Lamothe said she was forced to have sex with Hunter while she worked at the church.

    "He used his power as my employer to frighten me, and his power as my spiritual leader to coerce me, and to provide him with sexual comfort," Lamothe said at a news conference on Tuesday.

    But Hunter and his wife have also filed suit against Lamothe.

    That dispute centers on graphic and unsigned love notes allegedly written by Hunter, that Lamothe said he gave her.

    But in the suit, Denise Hunter said the letters were written by her husband to her.

    The couple accuses Lamothe of stealing them from the Hunter's home, where Lamothe occasionally visited.

    Denise Hunter released a statement regarding the alleged stolen letters:

    "I have personally seen the material that Mrs. Lamothe handed out to the media today, and I can confirm that these are private communications between me and my husband, pastor John Hunter. I am furious and disgusted that our private property has been taken and disclosed. I cannot believe that Mrs. Lamothe, who has been to our home many times and even babysat for our daughter on numerous occasions, would stoop so low."

    The leadership of the church said they stand fully behind the Hunters.

    In front of his congregation last Sunday, the pastor denied any sexual relationship with Lamothe, but at a news conference Tuesday, Lamothe said she could identify a scar on his buttock as proof of their affair.

    But it was well known that Hunter had a scar from hip surgery, according to Constance Fortune, a First AME trustee.