Church-Goer Sues After Getting Excommunicated During Service
BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A retired Brooklyn accountant is suing his former Christian church and its leaders for giving him the holy heave-ho in front of the entire congregation.
Patson Agard claims in a lawsuit that during a Sunday service on Feb. 12, officials at Good Tidings Gospel Chapel excommunicated him and wrongfully accused him of some serious sinning.
The lawsuit, filed Sept. 12 in Brooklyn Supreme Court, says church elders Theophilus Cato, Daril Neverson and Lloyd Allwood got up on a dais and told congregants that Agard swindled elderly church-goer Dorothy Jordan out of her home. The elders allegedly claimed he "prepared a deed without [Jordan's] knowledge" and pocketed $630,000 by refinancing her home and forging checks in her name.
A congregant at the 275-member Bedford-Stuyvesant church since 1960, Agard says he became an elder in 1984 and "has always enjoyed a good reputation for honesty and uprightness of character."
But after making their damning statements, the elders "stripped him of his position as elder and his membership in the church, in the presence of the plaintiff, his family and other worshippers in an effort to maximize his humiliation," the lawsuit says.
Less than a week later, the elders allegedly badmouthed Agard in a letter to a dozen branches of Good Tidings Gospel Chapel with thousands of congregants, telling them he had a "serious breach of conduct," the lawsuit says.
Agard, a retired MTA accountant from East New York, says Jordan first accused him of being a "crook" on Jan. 28 and then went to the other elders. He denies the allegations in the lawsuit and says his reputation was slandered by Jordan and the other elders who "acted with actual malice."
There have been no criminal or civil cases filed against Agard, according to court records.
He is suing Jordan, Cato, Neverson and Allgood for an undisclosed amount of money. Agard's lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.
Jordan declined to discuss the lawsuit, but said "I didn't tell no lie on him."
"I had him come in here helping me, but he helped himself," she said. "He refused to admit that he was wrong."
Cato declined to discuss the details of the alleged mortgage fraud. He acknowledged the public dressing down at the church service, but said Agard refused to resign when the elders confronted him in private.
"We mentioned that to him before he was disciplined," said Cato. "He wouldn't step down."