May 11, 2006

AME Church Relieves Minister of Duties After Sex Abuse Allegations

Los Angeles Times

By Lisa Richardson, Times Staff Writer
May 11, 2006

The African Methodist Episcopal Church has relieved a Los Angeles minister of his duties after concluding that he sexually molested two underage victims, according to a spokesman for the church, even though no criminal charges have been filed and the pastor denies the allegations.

The Rev. Sylvester Laudermill Jr., a prominent minister in the AME Church, assumed the pulpit of Ward AME Church in 2004 after pastoring a church in St. Louis for 10 years. He has maintained his innocence since allegations against him first surfaced in December 2005, when a 25-year-old man told St. Louis police that Laudermill began a sexual relationship with him when he was 14 that continued until he turned 21.

Another accuser then came forward in Los Angeles, but neither church officials nor police will elaborate on the nature of his allegations, except to say that he is a minor.

AME Bishop John Bryant, who heads the church's 5th Episcopal District that includes St. Louis and Los Angeles, held a closed-door session Monday evening and told the 200 congregants who filled the sanctuary of the accusations against Laudermill, the substantiation and the defrocking.

Posted by kshaw at May 11, 2006 07:01 AM