“Suffer Little Children . . . and Forbid Them Not”: California Pastor Gets Life Sentence For Abuse of Adopted Daughters

180px-Prison_cellPastor Jessica Banks, 65, has been sentenced to life in prison for drugging, beating, and locking up her five adopted daughters. The conviction includes counts of sexual abuse for two of the girls.

Banks ran the Word of Life Apostolic Church out of a storefront in a mall in Riverside County.

The sisters (aged 4 to 11) were found emaciated and often were denied food for days and beaten with cords and other objects by Banks.

The jury only took five hours to convict Banks of 16 felonies, including willful harm or injury to a child, child endangement, and sexual penetration by force or fear.

The oldest girl wrote a letter to Banks that was read in the court. It stated in part “Mom, I know somewhere in your heart you were a nice person. It was not right what you did to me and my sisters. Mom, I want you to know that I forgive you and I will be praying for you. But mom, It will never be OK what you did to me and my sisters.”

It appears that the Word of Life Apostolic Church missed that little part in the Bible about “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

We have seen a steady incarceration of pastors recently on abuse and other charges, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

For the full story, click here.

12 thoughts on ““Suffer Little Children . . . and Forbid Them Not”: California Pastor Gets Life Sentence For Abuse of Adopted Daughters”

  1. Mike,

    I think Buddha was the one who brought him up initially, I just happened to have read that story fairly recently and remembered recommending it.

    I don’t know where it is on Vachss’s end of things, but it’s in a couple of Lansdale short stories collection, including Veil’s Visit (which is the title of the story). I’m at a loss for the other one that it’s in, but I’m thinking “High Cotton” or “Mad Dog Summer.”

    Lansdale’s incredibly eclectic. His Hap and Lenard novels are pretty gritty and violent detective novels. His horror stuff is weird, but brilliant. The Ned the Seal Trilogy is… an experience, one well worth the read. He’s also got a great little western Novella called “Magic Wagon” that I think you would get a kick out of, it’s one of my favorites. There’s also some: alternate universe fiction, steam punk, comic book style stuff, and some Peter Straub style suspense.

  2. Gyges,
    Was it you who clued me into him? If so you did me a solid. I’ve just read nine straight of the Burke books and am becoming obsessed. I’m going to the library today for more and will see if they have the Vachss/Lansdale short story.

  3. FFLEO,
    I’m with you on this. When I worked in Child Welfare I often had fantasies of murdering some of the perpetrators. There is a writer named Andrew Vachss, I’ve read a lot of lately, whose main character Burke actually does that to heinous child abusers. Very satisfying mysteries.

  4. Here’s today’s roundup from joemygod:

    California: Pastor Jessica Banks sentenced to life in prison for physically and sexually abusing her five adopted daughters.
    Illinois: Jung Hee Chang charged with trespassing for refusing the leave the home of a woman who did not want her soul prayed for.
    Ohio: Pastor Dale Griffin charged with six counts of raping a parishioner.
    California: Pastor Lonnie McGowan charged with defrauding an 86 year-old parishioner of over $500K.
    Maryland: Rabbi Jay Wagner charged with embezzling funds from the Orthodox school where he is vice principal.
    Florida: Pastor Ronnie McGill, who is serving a 20 year sentence for real estate fraud, re-offended from behind bars by using the phone to attempt to con someone out of $40K for a new church.
    Arizona: Youth Pastor Joshua O’Bannion confesses to sex with 14 year-old female congregant.
    North Carolina: Pastor James William Rupard arrested for selling fake insurance policies. Thirty years ago Rupard was convicted of murdering his grandparents.
    Connecticut: Convicted child molester Father Paul Stanley has assembled over 100 scientists and psychologists to discount the validity of repressed memory syndrome, which was used by witnesses against him.
    Nova Scotia: Seventy men will share a $13M class action settlement for sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests, providing a court certifies the offer made by the church. Three priests have been convicted in the case.
    Florida: Father David Dueppen slapped with restraining order by stripper who claims he fathered her baby. She claims he threatened to kill her and her baby if she persisted in her demand for a DNA paternity test.

    This Week’s Winner–
    Missouri: Father Gerald Howard has been accused of child molestation by three more men after word got out that Howard had changed his name after confessing to the same crime in 1982. Howard says that Catholic Church authorities had told him to change his name after the conviction, then transferred him from New Jersey to Missouri under the new name. News of Howard’s former name came out earlier this summer when Mark McAllister, now 39, received a $600K settlement from the church. McAllister says that Howard kept up his sexual relationship with him even after pleading guilty to molesting him.

  5. Religion always gets a pass in this society, if one spouts the gospel then they must be OK. Its the biggest con game in history and people keep getting suckered day after day, year after year and century after century. It’s no wonder they are threatened by the truth of science. When will mankind, and especially we here in the U.S., learn that behind the kind smile of the evangelist lurks the devil incarnate. Born again christian George W. Bush is responsible for hundreds of thousands of death in Iraq based on lies. Our born again former leader is reponsible for the torture of human beings (many, many of which are innocent) that we were commited to prevent and prosecute. Religous leaders, like politicians, need to be held to the same standards as the rest of society. The big question is when will we hold them accountable?

  6. Thinking about the plight those innocent little girls experienced is enough to bring a tear to a hardened, seasoned old man’s eye…

    Fanatical religions of stripes must be exposed for what they are; I agree with James.

  7. Buddha Is Laughing reflects: “And 10 links to recent stories proper about abuse and crimes from “the religious”?

    I don’t think I can add anything to that.”

    I would add that such intimate invasions are not limited to sex where “the religious” are concerned. We allow them to steer our federal policy, producing torture, crusader wars, and COMPLETE warrantless data mining, all of which persist through this nanosecond.

    A revocation of tax-exempt status is long over-due. War crimes prosecutions even more so.

    Until then, give your kids tasers while in church.

  8. ““Mom, I know somewhere in your heart you were a nice person. It was not right what you did to me and my sisters. Mom, I want you to know that I forgive you and I will be praying for you. But mom, It will never be OK what you did to me and my sisters.”


    Sorry, sweetie, nowhere in her heart is she a “nice” person.

    I prefer the following Biblical verse as being applicable here:

    “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”

    Luke 17:2 (KJV)

  9. And to think that she won’t get the death penalty. This is a case where her life is not going to be worth living. I bet she got the kuds for the money. Yes, there is a lot of $money$ in adoption subsidies from the state and Feral Government.

    What she did to these children is even more of an abomination than if the parents had kept them. But when you get between 500 to 2,500 per month per child we do have mortgages to pay.

    Would not someone agree that the death penalty should apply? ESPECIALLY IN THIS CASE.

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