CLEVELAND (CN) – Three women say the Rev. Jonathan Locust Sr. used his “dictatorial power” over the church to “perpetuate fraud, sexual, emotional and spiritual abuse” upon them for two years. One says Locust persuaded her to take out a second mortgage to give $12,000 to his River of Living Waters Apostolic Church, “only to later sexually abuse, humiliate and constructively force her to leave” the church.
This woman claims Locust induced her to take out the $12,000 second mortgage on her home to give as a donation by promising her she would be elevated “to a paid position of power and prominence” in the church.
The women say that once Locust got his hands on their money, and on them, he told them that “their financial, material and spiritual well-being now depended on their unconditional willingness to turn their will over to him as God’s proxy.” They say he told them that their “willingness and worthiness would be judged by their unquestioned compliance with his every request, including accepting sexual molestation and abuse at defendant Locust’s own hand in complete secrecy and silence.”
When the plaintiffs wised up, they say, Locust told them God would punish them and remove from them what little material possessions they had left.
The women say Locust’s abuse caused them to question their relationship with God and caused them anxiety, depression, social isolation and alienation. They each seek more than $100,000 in punitive damages. They are represented in Cuyahoga County Court by Thomas Perotti of Chardon, Ohio, and William Smith of Chagrin Falls.