An Ohio megachurch is being accused of swindling a mentally ill woman who also suffers from dementia out of her entire lifesavings. Now, the Public Guardian agency tasked with her care is fighting to get the money back.
According to Chicago’s CBS 2, 76-year-old Bridget Pollard has lived alone in “hoarding conditions” since her husband died in 2015. Refusing the help of her relatives, Pollard emptied her late husband’s state pension and wrote a $340,000 check to Grace Cathedral, the Akron, Ohio megachurch that broadcasts the ministry of Rev. Ernest Angley.
“She was basically stalked by [the] church to give money,” Dawn Lawkowski-Keller of the Public Guardian’s Office said. “The literature talks about how you’ll go to heaven if you give this money.”
Although she reportedly hadn’t been to church in years, a singer at the church named Corliss Whitney suspiciously became her power of attorney. Whitney is also named in the Public Guardian’s lawsuit.
“Miss Whitney became her power of attorney. She tried to petition to become her guardian, which is very unusual,” Lawkowski-Keller said according to CBS 2. “She never once tried to remove her from that bad situation.”
“I’m very sad for my aunt, that she spent all these years she thought she had a good friend, and a church she believed in, and this was all done in the name of God,” said Pollard’s niece, Bridget Johnson.
As The Friendly Atheist‘s Hemant Mehta points out, this isn’t the only lawsuit targeting the 96-year-old Rev. Angley.
He’s also being sued for more than $3 million for defaulting on loans taken out by the church’s broadcasting network. Earlier this year, a judge also forced Angley to close his Cathedral Buffet and pay out more than $388,000 in “damages and back wages to employees who… worked as unpaid volunteers.”
And that’s not even the worst of it. Angley has a long history of abusive practices as a religious leader, ranging from pressuring church members to get abortions and vasectomies to ignoring sexual abuse within his ranks.
Watch CBS 2’s report on the story below:
Featured image via Akron Beacon Journal