Archbishop Earl Paulk, co-founder of Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at Chapel Hill Harvester Church now faces an allegation from his adult granddaughter, Penielle “Penie” White, that he touched her inappropriately when she was about eight years old. This allegations will be thrown on the top of a growing pile of sexual misconduct allegations against the head of the megachurch.
White allegations surfaced in a sworn deposition in a lawsuit against the 80-year-old Paulk, who is accused by a former church member of coercing her into a sexual relationship.
The 80-year-old was required to take a court-ordered paternity test. The result: he is the father of 34-year-old D.E. Paulk, who became head pastor of the church a eighteen months ago. While D.E. Paulk was known his whole life as the nephew of Earl, it turns out that he is really his son. The controversy is the latest in legal saga involving both civil and criminal allegations.
Last January, Earl admitted to an affair with a former church employee Mona Brewer after Brewer sued over the affair that allegedly lasted from 1989 to 2003. She has charged that Earl told her that the affair was her only path to salvation. However, in a moment that recalls the Clinton scandal, Earl was asked in a 2006 deposition if he had ever had sex outside of marriage with anyone other than Brewer. He swore he had not and now the paternity test showed that he lied. That puts him at risk of an indictment for false testimony. What is so interesting about these cases like Clinton’s and Paulk’s is the decision to lie rather than take a number of alternative courses ranging from settlement to default.
A civil case seemed to be heading to a criminal investigation. The case against Paulk for an affair was not a slam dunk. Absent a paternity claim and reliance, an affair is not generally a good basis for civil liability. When occurring between consenting adults, the courts treat the matter as private unless there is a question of child support, injury, or fraud. Lying to someone for sexual relations is a rather old practice. The fact that the woman worked at the church does create a basis to claim coercion or exploitation but it was still a challenge. The case is now made easier by the fact that Paulk lied and would be destroyed on the stand if the case goes to trial.
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