A bizarre row between the bishop of one of America's largest Christian denominations and one of its pastors has taken an even stranger turn as an alleged abuse victim has hit back at claims the bishop was responsible.
Florida pastor Earl Carter has been in a long-running feud with Bishop Charles Blake, the 75-year-old head of the 6-million-strong Church of God in Christ (COGIC). The row erupted after Carter was forced to apologise for offensive anti-gay comments he made from the pulpit in 2014.
He has since accused Blake, whose Los Angeles congregation includes Magic Johnson and Denzel Washington and who is a member of President Obama's White House Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership, of being a homosexual who travelled to South Africa for sex with young boys and of financial misconduct. Blake is suing Carter for $75,000.
Now Carter has given a new twist to the story by naming a man he says the bishop abused as a child. According to the Daily Mail Online, Sidney Lassiter told a friend, Denise Hall, that his son had been molested as a child. She allegedly told Carter, who said online that the abuser was Bishop Blake.
However, both the victim, Sidney Lassiter III, and his father, deny Blake was the perpetrator. They put up a YouTube video on Sunday attacking Carter. "A cruel and nasty act did happen to me actually at the age of 12 or 13," said the younger Lassister. "But the perpetrator was not Bishop Charles Blake."
The Lassiters hit out at what they said was an unwarranted breach of privacy.
His mother Bethaline Chapman said: "Our son has likewise suffered substantial emotional distress as a result of these wholly false allegations; he is currently receiving psychological therapy in an attempt to cope with the strain stemming from this defamatory and grossly scandalous invasion of his personal privacy."
Carter has refused to take his video down and claims Blake is trying to "destroy" him. He is seeking funds to fight his legal case.