Radical Trump-loving, right–wing pastor Perry Stone abruptly announced in April that he had “cleared [his] travel schedule for several months just to get away with the Lord, and will not be conducting” any meetings or leading any services for the foreseeable future.
No explanation was given for Stone’s sudden disappearance, and when he returned to the pulpit for the first time in three months on Tuesday night, he mentioned only that he had been suffering from various health issues that required him to reduce his workload and make some changes within the organization.
He conspicuously did not mention that he had been forced to go on sabbatical by the board of directors of his Voice of Evangelism ministry after being accused of acting inappropriately with female employees, as the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported yesterday:
Perry Stone has been away from his multimillion-dollar ministry in Cleveland, Tennessee, for three months, leaving many of his followers confused. But in an audio message played for a small, in-person group of church members several weeks ago — and obtained by the Times Free Press — Stone said he acted inappropriately with female employees.
In the message, Stone said women brought concerns about his actions and words to his Voice of Evangelism board of directors. The board then asked him to step aside from public ministry and receive counseling.
Stone suggested multiple times that his treatment of female employees was because his work as a minister is stressful.
“I confess at times I’ve been inappropriate in all this weariness of just non-stop ministry,” Stone said in the message. “I let my guard down and I’ve asked, of course, God to forgive me for that. I sat down with my family, with my beautiful, precious wife Pam, the love of my life. I asked her to forgive me. And I very humbly and very sincerely ask those who have been hurt or offended by my actions to, please, also forgive me for those things.”
Stone, 61, did not say specifically what occurred but said he “acted inappropriately with them, and with words and sometimes actions.”
Under Tennessee law, non-consensual sexual advances, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature or creating hostile work environments, among other behavior, are considered sexual harassment.
Stone did not respond to a request for comment for this story. However, a statement from the Voice of Evangelism board of directors said Stone was placed on sabbatical first because of health concerns.
“Secondly,” the statement said, “a couple of employees at VOE requested to meet with the board of directors to address concerns of inappropriate words and actions.
“Upon review, the board determined that the issues were civil in nature and not criminal, but that the behavior deviated from the biblical standards set in place for VOE leadership. So the board unanimously initiated his current sabbatical. This action was not reactionary but with much prayer, and was set in place to uphold the highest standards of integrity and transparency.”
The Times Free Press obtained a recording of remarks Stone delivered to his ministry regarding the allegations and forced sabbatical.