Allegations against Mt. Zion's Bishop Joseph Walker dismissed due to statute of limitations

Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 2:20pm

A Nashville judge on Thursday morning dismissed allegations levied against Mt. Zion Baptist Church’s Bishop Joseph Walker III by a former parishioner.

Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Brothers granted Walker’s motion for summary judgment based on the one-year statute of limitations on tort claims, freeing him from allegations of sexual assault, battery, fraud, false imprisonment and other claims filed against him by Valencia Batson.

Batson had claimed the last physical or verbal contact with Walker was in January 2005, meaning the suit filed last January was six years past the statute of limitations.

The lawsuit claimed Walker used his position as a pastor to convince numerous women to have sex with him in order to become “closer to God.” Batson also claimed Walker intimidated her and forced her to keep the misconduct quiet.

Batson’s attorney Connie Allison attempted to argue that coercion on the part of Walker and other Mt. Zion employees caused her client to develop post traumatic stress disorder — and that the statute of limitations should have started when she finally came forward with the allegations.

But Brothers disagreed and sided with Mt. Zion’s attorney, Bob Boston, who argued state case law has repeatedly determined that duress and depression can’t be used to extend statute of limitations for tort claims.

Another suit filed by a former parishioner, Corey Corbin, was dismissed on similar grounds earlier this year.

However, Brothers ruled that one claim involving the church’s chief financial officer, Jerry White, can move forward. Batson alleges that White inappropriately touched her with his foot during a lunch meeting in 2011 to discuss her rental of office space from Mt. Zion.

Batson further claims that Mt. Zion knew White had a history of sexual abuse, and therefore could be liable for negligent supervision and negligent retention.

Brothers said Allison could decide to re-file a new suit that solely focuses on the claim related to White.

Mt. Zion Baptist Church has three locations in Middle Tennessee and claims to have more than 20,000 members.

13 Comments on this post:

By: Jughead on 12/13/12 at 1:25

Man, I am in the wrong business. I bet preachers get tail whenever they want it, then direct dial the repent line while reloading. Prey when they pray.

A ramblin man's dream job.

By: TITAN1 on 12/14/12 at 5:59

jughead, you really need to find God. I pray that you do.

By: Loner on 12/14/12 at 6:57

Git a rope!

By: budlight on 12/14/12 at 8:28

"However, Brothers ruled that one claim involving the church’s chief financial officer, Jerry White, can move forward. Batson alleges that White inappropriately touched her with his foot during a lunch meeting in 2011 to discuss her rental of office space from Mt. Zion."

I have been at lunch with people when they moved their foot and it accidentally brushed my foot or leg. Gee, I didn't know they were making a sexual pass at me. I'd be a millionaire if I had known that.

And what kind of sex is it when someone brushes up against your leg with their foot? And was his shoe on or off?

These women are looking for retirement nest eggs. PTSD is a bit of a stretch. These people should have to interview men and women with real PTSD from the war or from real traumatic events such as 9-11.

Get a job. It pays better.

By: NewYorker1 on 12/14/12 at 9:57

This church is a big rip off. I've had conversations of ex members of this church and I'm really surprised people still attend this crook's church. Looking forward to the day the doors a pad locked.

P.S. God gave you a brain, read your own bible at home. It's less expensive than attending these churches. They only want your money. They really don't give a damn about you or the community.

What has Mt. Zion done for the communities it serves? Absolutely nothing.

By: Cardinal73 on 12/14/12 at 10:25

Mt. Zion is a tremendous scam. Walker lives in a $2 million house in Brentwood and tells his congregations it is a "blessing from god". He is insulated by a church staff of zealots who hang on his every word and do ALL of the work of church. Walker is a repugnant pig who uses poor black folk as a way to fund his own excesses. This church/organization knows nothing about charity or service to humanity. It exists only as a way for Walker to get more money and sex.

By: NewYorker1 on 12/14/12 at 1:43

Cardinal73, I totally agree. The members are fools if you ask me. I know people that go to this church and have heard horrible stories. Nothing good yet.

By: NewYorker1 on 12/14/12 at 1:45

If I could find a bunch of idiots to pay for my $2 million dollar home, I would too. LOL.. I think it's hilarious really.

By: Truth12 on 12/15/12 at 9:58

I do not attend Mt. Zion but I must say this. In our country we say people are innocent until proven guilty. Bishop Walker was crucified by the media and many of you who already have problems with large churches for a variety of legitimate and illegitimate reason. Here is the truth: The case against him was dismissed not only because of statue of limitations but on the merits of the case. Which means that even if it was within the statue of limitations it would have been dismissed for lack of credible evidence. Just because someone accuses someone does not mean they are guilty. This is America people. Secondly, this man lost his 1st wife and I'm sure she left him an inheritance so to make the assumption that his house is a direct result of the church is ludicrous. They didn't had children and if she left him money he should be able to live where he wants to live. Truth: Mount Zion has done in this city what no other church has been able to do in terms of reaching at risk kids and college students for Jesus. I know the Bishop is not perfect, neither are we. If any of us were accused of something over 12 years ago how we would fair? It's over people! The devil attacked and the Kingdom of God won this one. Let it go. Nobody forces anybody to go to MZ. People (intelligent people) go because they are being fed the word of God. Hell if I wasn't a leader in my church, I would probably go there too. The man is anointed. We must stop tearing our leaders down and pray for them. NewYorker 1 asked what has Mount Zion done in the community in which it that's an indication of who doesn't have a brain. They have a CDC that operates in North Nashville. They provided scholarships for TSU students who were about to be put out of school. They send 8 buses to universities and feeds students. They clothed, feed the homeless; give more money to organizations in this city than any other faith based organization. Ask the Red Cross; Ask the Americian Cancer Society; People please...I just had to stand up and speak because I saw this all go down and knew it was about nothing but MONEY! Talk about him now and it could be you next. People can sue you for anything. Thank God in the end, the truth vindicated him. The end!

By: NewYorker1 on 12/17/12 at 10:03

Alright Ms. Truth12. You better peach Boo. The fact still remains that I don't trust the man. I think he's a crook and a whore. Next subject?

By: cookeville on 12/17/12 at 11:21

well, we all know about Elmer Gantry, don't we? It certainly wouldn't be the first time a preacher convinced an ignorant woman that having sex with him would get her closer to God. And really, maybe they did see God when they climaxed. I bet the preacher did! Sorry, couldn't resist!

I will admit that I think all churches of all faiths should not be exempt from paying taxes and that if anyone can get anything on any of them, it suits me just fine. The amount of tax dollars lost because of some silly outmoded thinking is ridiculous. Jesus said give to Caesar what is Caesar's but give your heart to God. The churches have given their hearts to amassing fortunes and Jesus is merely a figurehead they parade out at appropriate times like Christmas and Easter.

By: PKVol on 12/18/12 at 9:14

I won't pretend to know what really happened in this case, nor should I even attempt to know. However, I know that God knows the facts and will deal with them accordingly - punish whoever is guilty, because either the church staff is guilty or the accusors are guilty. Beyond that, money and its trappings are temporary, they don't buy happieness or salvation. The only true decision on earth that will transfer to the after life is the relationship you have or don't have with God almighty and His son, Jesus. Choose in your heart that He is the Living Savior and you will have eternity in Heaven, deny him and mock him and you choose your destiny in the fires of Hell.

For this reason, I don't believe in the "Prosperity Gospel" that is taught at Mt. Zion and by others around the country, including Joel Osteen. All the riches available on earth will pail in comparison to what is available to all who believe, from the poorest of the poor to the richest of the rich. This is laid out in God's word where Jesus said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It is not impossible, but very difficult.

By: PKVol on 12/18/12 at 9:15

pail = pale