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Former Pastor Micahn Carter Sues Ex-Employee Over Rape Allegation 

The former Washington-based pastor is set to find out next month if his defamation lawsuit will proceed.

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Micahn Carter is suing his former assistant, Mary Jones, for accusing him of rape in 2021.

On Jan. 9, both Jones and Carter filed motions with the Yakima County Superior Court. Judge Kevin Naught said he would issue a ruling next month as to whether or not the case could be dismissed under a state law known as the Uniform Public Expression Protection Act (UPEPA). UPEPA targets frivolous or abusive lawsuits filed to silence free speech, or speech regarding matters of public concern.

According to news reports, the defendant’s lawyer, Jennifer Chung, stated that sexual assault, especially one that happens at a church is a matter of public concern.

Naught also let a sealed order involving declarations around Jones’ prior sexual history stand.

Carter and his wife, April, led Yakima-based Together Church for 13 years. In July of 2019 he resigned suddenly from the church. He told those in the congregation that he was stepping down because of an “inappropriate incident” and that he had recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Carter checked himself into a treatment center.

Following his resignation, he and his family moved to Birmingham, Alabama, to join the staff at Church of the Highlands in Birmingham (COTH), which is part of the Association of Related Churches (ARC). According to court documents, Carter joined the church under a “ministerial restoration” program where he was not allowed to be part of public ministry for a year. He began preaching at the church again in 2020.

COTH is one of the largest churches in the United States, boasting over 40,000 attendees on Sunday across multiple campuses. COTH is known for working with pastors facing moral failings, having just built a $4.5 million lodge to help restore pastors. Carter is the latest in a number of pastors facing sexual misconduct allegations associated with the church.

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In 2021, Jones sent a letter to COTH’s Senior Pastor Chris Hodges. She told the megachurch pastor that Carter had raped her when he was serving as lead pastor at Together Church. She also posted a blog about the incident.

She notes in the blog that the lead pastor of the church began making inappropriate comments and touching her, all leading up to the moment he raped her during a church event.

A few days later, Carter and his family resigned from COTH.

Highlands released a statement about the resignation, stating they would no longer be part of Carter’s “restoration process.”

“When we shared this information with the Carters, they resigned from their positions on staff to work through these issues themselves,” the statement said.

Carter has stated in court documents that he and Jones had consensual sex, and in October 2022 he filed a defamation lawsuit against her in the state of Alabama. That case was thrown out since the alleged rape occurred in Washington.

Nine months later, in July of 2023, Carter filed another defamation suit with the Yakima County Superior Court where it is now awaiting a ruling from Judge Naught.

Local news reports show that Carter’s lawyer, Tonilynn Savage, believes the UPEPA process is being used to delay the lawsuit.

But Jones’s attorney said Carter has failed to demonstrate that he and the former church employee had consensual sex.

Main photo: Micahn Carter / YouTube screenshot @ The Father’s House OC

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Brittany Smith

Brittany Smith is a freelance writer living in Colorado Springs. She is the co-author of Unplanned Grace: A Compassionate Conversation on Life and Choice.