On September 1, a woman only identified as "Octavia" went to police to tell them about a rape that occurred at the House of Hope Atlanta megachurch four years ago. She had kept the allegation to herself up until that point, but was prompted to go to police after she received a threatening letter in her mailbox, The Christian Post reports.
According to Cobb County police officer C.B. Neill, the letter read, "Octavia Stop NOW or Else 83019." It is unclear what the numbers refer to.
The threat came after Octavia appeared on a popular online show where she claimed the rape occurred at the church after she was drugged. Also speaking to the Post was the show's host, Larry Reid, who says Octavia told him that she was raped by a church staff member inside a home she was living in provided by the church during a rough patch in her life.
In a note sent to Reid, Octavia said that the threats she's received since doing the interview have convinced her to go back to keeping quiet.
“I know how much bigger this all is but I’m not emotionally strong enough to keep it going. They made their point,” she wrote. “My mom is BEGGING me to let it go. I appreciate you bringing the light. There will be others I’m sure. I’m passing the torch.”
Reid said that after Octavia told church officials about the rape, she was pressured into signing legal agreements that barred her from speaking about it publicly. He added that even he was tricked into signing one after he tried to report on a child the church's pastor, E. Dewey Smith Jr., allegedly fathered out of wedlock. Pastor Smith is reportedly currently making child support payments for the child who was born in 2017.
According to Reid, the woman who Pastor Smith fathered the child with and who subsequently sued him for child support was also threatened. The Christian Post reported that Reid said "one of the women" claimed she was recently "ran off the road while driving," but it's not clear which woman he was referring to.
Featured image via House of Hope Atlanta