Menu Close

Tag: Pastor Leroy Lane Jr

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Leroy Lane, Jr. Gets No Prison Time for Sexually Abusing Church Teen

pastor leroy lane jr

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

In 2022, Leroy Lane Jr., pastor of Straight Gate Pentecostal Power Church in Benton Harbor, Michigan, was arrested and charged with sexually abusing a church teenager.

WNDU-16 reported:

Leroy Lane Jr. preached at the former Straight Gate Pentecostal Power Church. Multiple allegations have been made against Lane, accusing him of preying on and inappropriately touching teenage girls from his church.

Back in September 2021, Lane was accused of inappropriately touching a 13-year-old girl who was interviewed by investigators about the allegations.

According to documents obtained by 16 News Now, the girl was helping Lane prepare for a Super Bowl party at his home. She told investigators she was in his basement when he asked her to come sit with him on a reclining chair. She proceeded to sit on the arm of the chair.

He then asked her to sit on his lap, but she did not want to. That’s when he allegedly grabbed her, picked her up and put her on his lap. The victim then says Lane began to touch her thigh and rub her leg from her knee to the upper thigh.

The victim told investigators she yelled for her sister to come downstairs because she was concerned that Lane would touch a private part.

The victim also told investigators that Lane rubbed her backside while she was standing near a table of food later that same day.

Meanwhile, an older teen who is considered an adult in the court claims she was sexually assaulted by Lane in 2018.

The victim told investigators that Lane was helping her while she was going through a tough time financially, and even helped her obtain an apartment. She says Lane required her to give him a spare key to the apartment in case she lost hers.

She claims she was sexually attacked multiple times while she was sleeping after Lane would enter the apartment unannounced. She also told investigators that Lane had a handgun in his possession during these assaults.

Lane is denying the assault allegations and claims the incidents with the older teen were consensual.

After being ousted from Straight Gate, Lane now preaches at Rhema Word Ministries on Napier Avenue.

Channel 57 added:

Leroy Lane Jr. has been a pastor in Benton Harbor for over twenty years, and preached at Straight Gate Pentecostal Power Church– the congregation on Pipestone Street– now re-named New Birth Apostolic Church after cutting all ties with Pastor Lane when several allegations were made against him preying on teenage girls from his church.

Lane refused to say anything after his hearing on multiple criminal sexual conduct charges was postponed Tuesday at the Berrien County Courthouse. 

According to court documents obtained by ABC57, Pastor Lane paid for an apartment for a teenage girl at this church whose family was struggling financially, and in 2018, he allegedly entered the apartment twice– without her knowledge– and sexually assaulting her, one time telling her that he wanted to do that for years after having intercourse with her, and another time he told her he came in to “tuck her in for the night,” before another assault. 

Lane is also accused of inappropriately touching a thirteen-year old girl in 2020– picking her up against her will and putting her on his lap, then touching her inner thigh and backside. 

Police began investigating Lane Jr. after the thirteen-year old came forward, though he denies the assaults and has claimed that any prior sexual encounters were consensual.

But Deacon Curtis Sherrod, who worked at Straight Gate Pentecostal with Pastor Lane for sixteen years, called him a predator. 

“He utilized and weaponized the pulpit in order to keep people silent and to pump fear into people instead of giving them the ability to be free as they should be,” said Sherrod. 

He added that two of the victims are people close to him– and said that Lane has harmed far more than just the two girls. 

“There are victims that are, from what I understand, that cannot be found, that I watched grow up in the church, that he took advantage of,” he said. “There are two, that while they may not be counted in the case as victims, two of them are my nieces, and as a family we were able to clearly see that he was plotting to head in the direction of grooming them in some way.”

After being ousted from Straight Gate, Lane now preaches at Rhema Word Ministries on Napier Avenue.

I knocked on the church doors to see if anyone there knew of the allegations, though no one answered. 

“He just continues to propagate,” Sherrod said. “I would like to see that no one deal with or have the experience of what me and my peers, who were a tight-knit spiritual family at Straight Gate Pentecostal Power, I don’t want to see anyone go through that.”

Sherrod added that others need to come forward to prevent any other girls from becoming a victim. 

“If we sit silent, he’ll only do it again,” he said. “He’s proven that. If someone actually stands up and says something—and it’s not just me—but someone has to do something. And if it’s me, so be it.”

In April 2023:

A Benton Harbor pastor pleaded guilty to lesser charges following accusations that he was preying on young members of his congregation, according to prosecutors.

Leroy Lane pleaded no contest to assault and battery and assault with a dangerous weapon.

These are reduced counts from his criminal sexual conduct charges.

Lane appeared in court on June 12, 2023, and was sentenced to five years of probation. He must register as a sex offender for 15 years, stay off social media, stay away from children, and serve 960 hours of community service.

Channel 57 reports:

Benton Harbor Pastor Leroy Lane Jr. will not serve any jail time for sexually abusing a teenage girl who was a member of his church at the time.

He was also accused of sexually abusing other young women while he was the pastor of the Straight Gate Pentecostal Church in Benton Harbor.

Lane received a sentence of five years of probation, he must register as a sex offender for 15 years, stay off social media and stay away from children, and serve 960 hours of community service.

His victim, Jacqueline Prather, appeared in court today to face lane during his sentencing.

She was very disappointed with the sentence, but felt it was important to be there.

Lane’s victim was at the sentencing. She expressed disappointment with the judge’s sentence. Disappointment? How about outrage? Lane sexually molested a 13-year-old church girl and was accused of sexually molesting other minors. And he gets a slap on the wrist? This is a miscarriage of justice; yet another reminder that some judges do not take sexual assault seriously. What possible mitigating factors could lead to such an offensive, harmful sentence?

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce Gerencser