Carl Lentz admits to 'inappropriate relationship' with former nanny

Carl Lentz was fired as Hillsong NYC pastor in 2020.(Photo: FX Networks)

Ex-Hillsong New York City pastor Carl Lentz will address claims he sexually abused his former nanny in a new documentary about the famed church.

Lentz was fired as the pastor of Hillsong NYC in November 2020 because of "moral failures" and leadership issues. Shortly after his firing, he issued a statement saying he had been unfaithful to his wife Laura.

The following year, in an article on Medium, former Hillsong leader, Leona Kimes, alleged that the "lead pastors" of Hillsong NYC had sexually and emotionally abused her while she was working as their nanny.

"During the years I spent serving them, I was subjected to manipulation, control, bullying, abuse of power, and sexual abuse. Having told almost no one before this, I am just now able to share what I experienced in their home as the result of intense therapy," she alleged in the article.

Kimes was the Lentz family nanny for seven years before she and her husband, Josh, formerly the associate pastor of Hillsong NYC, went to pastor Hillsong Boston. They resigned as leaders of the Boston campus last year.

In a preview seen by People magazine for episode two of the documentary, The Secrets of Hillsong, airing this Friday on FX Networks, Lentz admits to an "inappropriate relationship" but says that "any notion of abuse is categorically false". He has released previous statements with wife Laura in which they "vehemently deny" Kimes' allegations.

In the documentary, Lentz says, "I am responsible for allowing an inappropriate relationship to develop in my house with someone that worked for us."

He continues, "There were mutual adult decisions made by two people who lied profusely, mainly to my wife.

"It's an issue because I was a boss, this person was an employee. I'm responsible for that power dynamic and the management of it and the wisdom that goes with it, and I failed absolutely miserably."

Lentz said that as the scandal unfolded, he even "thought about vacating the planet". 

He also talked for the first time about sexual abuse he says he suffered as a child. 

"I'm tired of this damage, I'm tired of this wreckage, I'm tired of putting people I love through pain," he said. "I did those things, those are on me, I take responsibility for those. The rest of my life I'll be making amends where I can. And it's also my job to go figure out how the hell that happened."

Lentz recently joined Transformation Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as a "strategist". 

In an open letter posted on his Instagram earlier this month, Lentz clarified that he was "no longer in ministry" and that he was "not preaching, not overseeing people".

"My role is to help give perspective and insight where I can," he said.