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According to reports, a Georgia pastor and his wife were arrested after eight disabled people were discovered locked in their basement. The pastor and wife claim they were not holding the people against their will in the unlicensed group home.
Nevertheless, Curtis Keith Bankston and his wife, Sophia Simm-Bankston, were charged with false imprisonment in connection with the operation. Authorities claim the couple held as many as eight people in the basement against their will while also seizing control of their finances.
Per local ABC affiliate WJCL 22:
Police said earlier this week that city firefighters responded on Jan. 13 to a report of a person having a seizure at the location and found people were in a deadbolted basement, with paramedics climbing through a window to reach a patient. Police say they found the residents were all mentally or physically disabled and that the Bankstons also controlled their medications and had denied medical care to residents. […] Police say the couple disguised the home as a ministry of Bankston’s church called One Step of Faith 2nd Chance. Investigators say the couple locked residents in the basement during parts of the day. Police say all the residents were moved to new homes.
However, the Bankstons’ lawyer, Dexter Wimbish spoke with the media and denied the accusations against his clients.
“At no time was anybody held against their will. There was no kidnapping,” Wimbish said. “There is no fraud here. This is simply a Christian man who was following his calling to help those who are in need. We cannot sit by and allow [their] ministry to be attacked.”