A Minnesota pastor has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a woman in his church who asked for spiritual guidance, saying that what she experienced was “deliverance.”
Meally Morris Freeman, a pastor at the Grace Mountaineer Tabernacle Church in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, was charged with two felony counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct due to the incident which took place in September of 2017.
The victim told police that she knew Freeman for several years and considered him her spiritual father.
She said she was seeking spiritual guidance on September 20, 2017 and Freeman told her she needed a one-on-one session before bible study.
The complaint says that the practice of the church is to anoint parishioners with oil. At the session, Freeman allegedly gave the victim oil to drink and they began to pray. The victim said she then “fell out” or became unconscious as part of the religious ritual. When she woke up, she had oil on her chest and her clothing was wet. Freeman allegedly told the victim that he anointed all places, but that he didn’t see all places.
According to the victim, Freemen also said she needed a second session later that evening. Once they were alone, it wasn’t long before she again became unconscious.
When she woke up, she found her pants and underwear — that were ripped — were around her ankles. Her shirt and bra were also pulled up over her chest.
Freeman allegedly was spraying the victim with a water bottle filled with oil and then proceeded to sexually assault the victim. After the session was over, Freeman told the victim to pick her daughter up from the babysitter because he did not want people to know how late she was at the church.
After leaving the church, the victim spoke with a friend who advised her she had not received “deliverance” but was sexually assaulted.
A lot of sexual abuse by religious leaders goes unreported, or at least unpunished, because of the existence of church hierarchies, internal “investigations,” and cover-ups. But this victim decided to confront her alleged attacker by secretly recording him. Freeman reportedly didn’t deny touching her sexually.
In the recording, Freeman admitted to anointing the victim’s chest and said “we insert things into people”, according to the complaint.
Freeman allegedly also said that his wife knows he sees women naked and that some things happen during the “deliverance” event and that “you don’t ask what happens, you don’t go into details and that deliverance can be very tempting.”
The victim said both Freeman and his wife tried to convince her not to report the incident to police.
This is a pretty cut-and-dry example of religion being used as a weapon for at least one man to sexually assault women. (A very similar incident involving oil and anointing took place last year in Michigan.) The very nature of this one-on-one “deliverance” event, combined with a lack of oversight in churches in general, gave this man an opportunity to hurt women. One of them says he took advantage of that and used his faith to hide it.
If Freeman is convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison. That would give him plenty of time to think about what he did to people who sought spiritual guidance because they were already at their most vulnerable.
(Thanks to Gary for the link)