Leaders of the First AME Church Say Lawsuit by Former Church Employee is "Nonsense" and Voice Support for Their Pastor
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LOS ANGELES--(Business Wire)-- The leadership of First AME Church of Los Angeles closed ranks behind Senior Pastor Dr. John J. Hunter today, praising him as a dedicated leader whose conduct has been above reproach since he came to the Church five years ago. "Pastor John has our full support," said Church Trustee Constance Fortune, describing a lawsuit filed against him by former church employee, Brenda Lamothe, as meritless and unbelievable. "Pastor John has been a blessing to our Church and to the community and we stand with him, not only in his ministry, but also in the legal action we are taking against Ms. Lamothe." The Board of Stewards announced Wednesday that the Church, Senior Pastor Hunter and Mrs. Denise Hunter, President and COO of the FAME Corporations, had filed suit against Ms. Lamothe, alleging conversion of the Hunter`s personal property, infliction of emotional distress, intentional interference with the Hunter`s relationship with the Church and conspiracy. The attorney for the Hunters and the church, Robert W. Brockman, Jr., said Ms. Lamothe`s allegations of sexual harassment are untrue and will be proven so in court. He said Dr. Hunter did not have an inappropriate relationship with Ms. Lamothe at any time, and added that Church leaders suspect that Ms. Lamothe is seeking monetary gain in an unlawful manner. "Brenda Lamothe`s claims are implausible nonsense," Mrs. Fortune said. "To those of us who know her and have worked with her for years, the allegations in her lawsuit ring hollow and do not square with the facts. We see this lawsuit as nothing more than an attempt to smear the pastor, damage his relationship with the Church and damage our Church`s relationship with this community and the public." The Board of Stewards said Wednesday that the church and the Hunters filed their lawsuit against Ms. Lamothe after her attorney produced what he termed "love letters" sent to Ms. Lamothe by Dr. Hunter and threatened to file suit and go to the media unless Ms. Lamothe was paid a monetary settlement. "Both Dr. and Mrs. Hunter immediately recognized these notes as their own personal communications they had shared with each other as husband and wife and that apparently had been taken unlawfully," Mrs. Fortune said. "We felt we had to file suit to put a stop to this malicious attack on the church and on the Hunter`s relationship with the church." Mrs. Fortune continued: "Ms. Lamothe`s lawsuit claims Pastor John fired her on June 2, 2009. But we have her resignation letter dated Sept. 10, 2008 thanking him and describing him as a blessing to her life and career." She pointed out the lawsuit`s allegation that Pastor Hunter told Ms. Lamothe that he was a "prophet" exposes the suit`s lack of credibility. "Ms. Lamothe was an ordained minister in this Church and she knows our Methodist doctrines and theology do not recognize our pastors as modern day prophets," said Mrs. Fortune. Mrs. Fortune said church leaders who have known Ms. Lamothe for more than a decade see her allegations as irrational. "She was well known and had many friends in this church for years before Pastor John came here," Mrs. Fortune said. "Pastor John was the newcomer. It is unbelievable that she didn`t turn to those she had known and trusted for years if there was something wrong." Mrs. Fortune continued: "We`re being asked to believe that instead of telling her friends she was being mistreated by a new pastor that none of us knew, she kept quiet for years. Then she resigns in a letter that praises the Church and the pastor. And now more than a year later she hires a lawyer to quietly demand we pay her money or she`ll go to the press." She added Ms. Lamothe`s claims that Dr. Hunter gave her jewelry are meaningless. "Pastor John routinely brings jewelry as gifts for church executives and ministers when he returns from his trips," Mrs. Fortune said. "If she has jewelry that he gave her, it would be a surprise to no one." Tony Knight or Holly Baird Sitrick And Company 310-788-2850 Or 818-903-3049 Copyright Business Wire 2009