A lawsuit that alleges a seamy and shocking pattern of sexual misconduct enveloped in ministerial privilege has jolted one of the world's largest associations of charismatic churches and devastated an Atlanta-area megachurch.

Earl Paulk was forced to resign in October as archbishop of the International Communion of Charismatic Churches (ICCC) after a member of his local church—the 6,000-member Cathedral at Chapel Hill in Decatur, Georgia—filed a lawsuit on August 31 charging him with using his position and spiritual role to manipulate women to have sex with himself, members of his family, and others, including visiting pastors, for many years.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages from Earl Paulk and his brother, Don Paulk, for engaging in illicit sex, and from the church's board of directors for acquiescing and covering their misdeeds. Since the lawsuit went public, Sunday attendance at the church has dropped to less than 1,000.

Former church employee Mona Brewer claims in the suit that Earl Paulk persuaded her in 1989 "to believe that her only route to salvation was to engage in sexual acts" at his request.

Paulk "vehemently and rigorously denies" the charges in the lawsuit, which his defense team contends Brewer made only after Paulk refused to give her money and property to keep quiet. Paulk has admitted to his congregation that 10 years ago he "succumbed to Brewer's advances on two or three occasions," but claims that ended their sexual involvement.

The unsavory tale may get much worse. The discovery process in the case—which attorneys say may not go to trial for several months—is exploring reports that Paulk has fathered a number of children with women in his congregation, and Brewer's attorney has filed ...

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