Rev. Wayne Marlon Jones, 53, has been criminally charged in a case where police say that he sexually assaulted a woman during exorcisms and defrauded her over the course of years. The case could raise questions over questions of consent and religious beliefs.
Jones is charged with three counts of fraud for allegedly swindling the woman out of money and property. None of the reports however give details on the basis for such fraud allegations. It is not clear if the prosecutors are alleging that he used religious claims to secure such payments, though he could argue that such claims are protected and that the payments were voluntary.
Police say that Jones held the exorcism and counseling sessions between May of 2011 and May of 2013 at the United Spiritual Baptist Church on Midland Avenue. They say that he exploited the women sexually and financially during that period. These cases however raise the question of where to draw the line between religious claims and fraud. Often the line is clear, but courts can struggle with cases where religious figures convince parishioners that they should give more than the usual tithe or make promises that include a religiously based assurance of healing or everlasting life.
Jones is listed on the United Spiritual Baptist Church website as “Bishop Wayne Jones.” He was born in Trinidad and Tobago and immigrated to Canada in 1984. His church has been in long conflict with city and appears abandoned after years of permit and safety issues raised by inspectors and neighbors. His website states “Bishop Jones has a vast number of spiritual children, and considers himself blessed to have been given stewardship of them by the almighty God.”
Police are looking for more victims.