Pastor, Wife Charged After Eight People Found Imprisoned In Their Basement

Curtis Keith Bankston, Sophia Simm-Bankston

Photo: Spalding County Sheriff's Office

A pastor and his wife were arrested after authorities in Georgia discovered eight people locked in their basement. The Griffin Police Department said that Curtis Keith Bankston and Sophia Simm-Bankston were running an unlicensed group home "under the guise of a church known as One Step of Faith 2nd Chance."

The couple was caught after calling 911 to report that somebody in the home was having a seizure. When the fire department arrived, they noticed the door to the basement was locked with a deadbolt. The firefighters had to climb through a window to reach the patient. After taking care of the medical emergency, the firefighters notified the police.

Deputies searched the home and discovered eight people living in the basement. They all suffered from physical and mental disabilities and were "essentially imprisoned against their will."

The couple was taken into custody and charged with false imprisonment. Officials said that more charges could be filed as the investigation continues.

"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," the police department said in a statement.

Dexter Wimbish, an attorney representing the couple, denied the claims made by authorities.

"First, One Step of Faith 2nd Chance Ministries has not been operating a group home but a Christian Ministry that supplies room and board to individuals who have oftentimes been homeless or wards of the state," Wimbish said.

"Everybody inside this home was here on their own free will. They were free to come and go as they please. No one was kept, held hostage," he added.

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