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Several neglected people found in basement of group home, 'pastor' charged: police

several neglected people found in basement of group home pastor arrested in connection
Source: Spalding County Sheriff's Office, Unsplash

Jan. 20 2022, Published 11:15 a.m. ET

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Multiple people were found locked up and neglected in an unlicensed “group home” in Georgia, and police say a man posing as a pastor has been arrested in connection to the incident.

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On Jan. 13, Griffin Fire was called to the home after a report came in of a patient having a seizure at a self-described church in Griffin, Georgia, Griffin police said.

At the house, first responders found the entrance to the basement was dead-bolted and they had to climb through a window to get to the patient, police said.

Inside the basement, officials said they found as many as eight people who were mentally or physically disabled. They were “locked-in” at times by their “caretakers," police said.

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An investigation began, and detectives said Curtis Keith Bankston and Sophia Simms-Bankston were leasing the home for about 14 months and operating the unlicensed facility under an appearance as a church. The church was called One Step of Faith 2nd Chance.

Curtis claimed to be a pastor and detectives discovered he and his wife were in control of the individuals’ finances, benefits and medication. In some cases, police said the couple denied the people their medication and medical care.


All the individuals found in that basement have now been placed by the Georgia Department of Human Services into suitable care and housing, officials said.

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Curtis was arrested and booked into the Spalding County Jail on a charge of false imprisonment, police said.

Officials said charges against his wife were pending,

In a statement from the City of Griffin Police Department, officials said, "It is both frightening and disgusting to see the degree to which these individuals have been taken advantage of by people who were in a position of trust."

several neglected people found in basement of group home pastor arrested in connection
Source: Spalding County Sheriff's Office, Unsplash

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