HOUSTON – Members of a southeast Houston church have sued their pastor, alleging that he abused alcohol, threatened worshippers and embarrassed the congregation when he was arrested last year.
The lawsuit lists 70 plaintiffs from the Mount Olive Baptist Church in the 3500 block of Yellowstone. The church is led by the Rev. Theodore Baines.
What has been a house for worship for 90 years has "turned into chaos and disruption," said U. Lawrence Boze, the attorney for the plaintiffs.
"There are several members who have left the church out of fear," Boze said, adding that his clients feel Baines has violated the church's bylaws and was never formally installed as pastor.
The lawsuit claims Baines has used "vile, shocking profanity" and made "lewd remarks to young female members." It also alleges he's consumed alcohol uncontrollably "while on duty."
The suit also points out -- and court records confirm – that Baines was arrested last year in Fort Bend County and charged with aggravated assault with a firearm, which is a felony.
"This has brought embarrassment and ridicule to the church,’ Boze said. "There are other incidents they've told me about him threatening people with a gun, running members off with a gun."
The pastor's supporters wouldn't go on-camera but some did tell KHOU 11 News the lawsuit was filed by former church members with an ax to grind -- and that the truth will eventually come out.
KHOU 11 News tried repeatedly to ask Baines for a comment to refute the allegations. But each time, church members said he would not speak.
Now the congregation is waiting for June 6 – the day a judge is scheduled to rule on the lawsuit, which seeks a restraining order to keep Baines away from the church’s property.
"This is not about any one individual,” Boze said. “This is about the church."