Griffin pastors accused of locking up elderly patients file lawsuit

Curtis and Sophia Bankston say they ran a Christian-based ministry, but police reportedly discovered unsafe living conditions
Curtis and Sophia Bankston say they ran a Christian-based ministry, but police reportedly discovered unsafe living conditions.
Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 3:16 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 10, 2023 at 3:24 PM EST
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GRIFFIN, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - One year after two metro Atlanta pastors were accused of locking elderly clients in their basement, the couple has filed a defamation lawsuit and claim their reputation has been ruined.

The lawsuit comes after an Atlanta News First investigation exposed conditions inside what Griffin police called an unlicensed care home.

In January 2022, emergency medical crews responded to reports of a patient suffering seizures at Curtis and Sophia Bankston’s residence. When police later entered the home, they reported finding at least eight elderly and mentally disabled people living in the Bankston’s basement.

Police reported a mattress soiled with feces, windows blocked by bunk beds and expired food and medications.

RELATED: VULNERABLE & VICTIMIZED: Inside look at pastor’s unlicensed care home in Griffin

“There was one guy who was diabetic and he hadn’t received, at least according to him and from what we could put together, hadn’t been seen by a physician, or received his medication in over six months,” said Griffin Police Chief Mike Yates at the time. “They were one carbon monoxide leak or fire away from eight, nine, 10 deaths.”

Police had responded at least twice before to the Bankstons’ home; one visit was in response to a missing patient and another for a reportedly suicidal patient. Police did not go inside the home during either of those calls.

Now, the Bankstons are seeking an undisclosed amount of money, claiming their business reputation was ruined. No indictments have been issued over the last year; the couple continues denying all the allegations and claims they have been falsely accused. The lawsuit said the Bankstons provided “housing through a Christian-based ministry program.”

The Bankstons’ lawsuit claims false imprisonment/false arrest; reputation injury; and defamation. They are also demanding a trial by jury.

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