A Florida pastor has stepped down amid accusations he had an affair with a woman and then tried to cover it up by paying her to keep quiet, WFTV reports.
Pastor David Janney, 61, has stepped down from his post at the Orlando Baptist Church after being accused of the affair by church member Arlene Miranda. She sued the church, claiming the church offered her $3,000 to keep quiet, but never paid her the money.
“They threatened me. If I didn’t sign it, they threatened me,” she told WFTV.
She denied she went public because of the money, telling the station, “I committed a sin. The Holy Spirit really, really convicted me and I wanted to come clean.”
The lawsuit is being paid for by Orlando businessman Craig Mateer, who sued Janney’s charity in 2012 for misusing funds — but the suit was settled outside court.
Mateer had donated $117,000 to Janney’s organization, World Hope, with the belief the money would be spent on development projects for poor people. But he had an accountant track his donations and told the Orlando Sentinel that the money appeared to have enriched Janney instead.
According to the lawsuit, Miranda has been an active church member since 2008. In September, she alleges that Janney started making sexual advances toward her, and texted her with his fantasies.
The lawsuit claims that after the pair had an affair, Miranda felt guilty and sought guidance from church leadership. But once they learned who she was involved with, she was told she had the religious duty to remain silent in order to protect the pastor and the church. After this point, she was instructed to sign a non-disclosure agreement. She claimed the pastor sent her threatening text messages.
According to text messages attached to the lawsuit, Janney starts messaging Miranda with rapturous messages about his obsession with her beauty.
“You’re beautiful, you’re very sexy, your body is amazing and you’re very passionate,” he wrote to her. “I wish we had a better place and a better time for today. You’re more than I fantasized. Be proud of yourself. [A]md now please give me a few days to work through my mind my heart and talk to my Lord. More than anything I want to be the man of God and your pastor.”
They then devolve into him telling her to stop texting him because his wife may see.
A heart-broken Miranda at one point responds to his rejection with, “So i was a one night stand” (sic)
“I have tried to help you with your feelings,” he wrote later. “I do not have the ability to deal with your feelings all the time. You have to get a handle on this.”
Not long after, Janney would be stepping down, mired in a lawsuit. The church released the following statement to the station.
“Pastor Dave Janney resigned as the Senior Pastor effective Sunday, February 7, 2016, not because the allegations against him are true, but because he felt his resignation was in the best interest of the Church. Orlando Baptist Church is saddened by the resignation of Pastor Dave Janney. He leaves with our love and support. As a church we desire to extend grace and love to all, in all that we do. The church will be forming a pulpit committee that will lead in the process of selecting a new pastor. Ultimately our church members will be able to ask questions of, and vote for, any new pastor.”
Watch the report, from WFTV, here: