man on stage in front of audience (l) couple on stage speaking into microphone (r)

r/publicfreakout

‘I was a prisoner, and you kept me in your prison’: Woman accuses pastor of grooming her when she was 16 in front of church

'People knew but were too afraid to come forward.'

 

Tricia Crimmins

IRL

Posted on May 24, 2022   Updated on May 25, 2022, 12:50 pm CDT

A viral video shows a woman publicly accusing an Indiana pastor of grooming her when she was 16 after he spoke to his congregation about committing adultery.

In a video filmed on Sunday and posted on Reddit by u/boozing_again on Monday, a pastor—whom the Daily Mail identified as John B. Lowe II of New Life Christian Church in Warsaw, Indiana—tells his congregation that he “sinned” by committing adultery. He apologizes to the audience and announces that he will be stepping down from his “ministry responsibilities.”

Shortly after, a woman identified by the Daily Mail as Bobi Gephart, approaches the pulpit and says that Lowe began grooming her 27 years ago. Gephart says in the video that her brother saw her as a teen, not wearing pants and in bed with then-38-year-old Lowe. She says her brother recently asked her about the incident, and she decided to come forward.

“People knew but were too afraid to come forward—but they have now,” Gephart says. “I was a prisoner, and you kept me in your prison.” Gephart also says she experienced suicidal ideation after her experiences with Lowe and that he “took [her] virginity” when she was 16 on the floor of his office. (The age of consent is 16 in Indiana.)

Gephart also says that when she told someone about her sexual experiences with Lowe, her story was covered up. She also references other alleged instances of molestation and covering up by New Life.

Gephart’s husband says in the video that the sexual grooming began when she was 15 or 16 and lasted for nine years. He also presents the church with a necklace and ring that he says were given to Gephart as ministry gifts.

A final video shows the congregation’s reaction after Gephart and her husband left the stage. In it, a voice says, “If you did it, you need to admit it.” The congregation then applauds in agreement. Lowe then says that what Gephart said is “not all true,” but that they did have a relationship. Members of the congregation are then seen hugging Lowe.

U/boozing_again’s first two videos had almost 10,000 upvotes on Reddit on Tuesday.

In a statement on the church’s website, the church states that Gephart detailed her experiences in front of the church and “[indicated]” that “improper sexual conduct” with Lowe began when she was 16.

“In the wake of what has now been revealed, we are hurting and broken for a woman who has lovingly attended and served in the church for many years, as well as for her husband and family,” the statement reads. “Please be assured that, until now, none of this was disclosed to or known by any of the staff, ministers or personnel of New Life.”

The Daily Dot reached out to New Life.

Commenters on u/boozing_again’s videos sided with Gephart.

“Wow he needs jail,” u/add8585 commented.

U/LurkerNan agreed: they wrote that Lowe committed three “moral crimes,” with his smallest offense being adultery.

“Adultery assumes two consenting adults were involved. This was statutory rape of a minor,” u/LurkerNan wrote. “And it may not be a legal crime, but using your position of authority over that child to take advantage of her is an absolute morale outrage, as the third crime.”


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*First Published: May 24, 2022, 3:48 pm CDT