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Reporting the Truth.
Restoring the Church.

Former Pastor Accused of Rape Resigns from Churchome After TRR Investigation; Church Official Makes False Claims

By Julie Roys
churchome
Braylon Oliver (left) has resigned from Churchome following an investigation revealing allegations that he raped a woman. Churchome is a multi-site megachurch led by Judah and Chelsea Smith (right) (Images via social media)

Less than two weeks after The Roys Report (TRR) published an investigation, revealing that Churchome, Judah Smith’s “celebrity megachurch,” had rehired Braylon Oliver, a former pastor accused of rape, Oliver has resigned.

Oliver’s resignation was announced yesterday by Churchome HR Generalist Jessica Nunez on Slack, a business messaging app used by Churchome.

In an article published Feb. 15, TRR reported that Churchome rehired Oliver in 2022—three years after an independent investigation found a “preponderance of evidence” that Oliver had forced a woman to have sex with him.

TRR reached out to Churchome to confirm Oliver had resigned as the church’s donor relationship manager, but the church did not respond. However, we have obtained a screenshot of the Slack message sent to church employees.

churchome
In a Slack thread on February 27, 2023, Churchome HR Generalist Jessica Nunez announces that Braylon Oliver has resigned from the church.

In the thread, Churchome Chief Operating Officer Breanna Hamlin thanks Oliver for his “investment into Churchome.” And Churchome Youth Pastor Jamie Kraut states, “@Braylon grateful for who you are. You will make an impact no matter where you go and what you do!”

Your tax-deductible gift helps our journalists report the truth and hold Christian leaders and organizations accountable. Give a gift of $30 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “Baptistland: A Memoir of Abuse, Betrayal, and Transformation” by Christa Brown. To donate, click here.

CEO David Kroll claims investigation was “inconclusive”

Churchome has not made any public statements concerning TRR’s investigation.

But TRR has obtained video of a meeting between Churchome CEO David Kroll and staff, responding to TRR’s Feb. 15 article. In the video, Kroll claims the article was “very intentionally misleading” and contained “straight-up factual inaccuracies.”

hCurchome David Kroll
Churchome CEO David Kroll

Most notably, Kroll claims that the third-party investigation into allegations that Oliver raped a woman (referred to as “Jane” in TRR’s article) found “there was no evidence, and it was inconclusive.”

“The moment that these accusations were brought to us, Braylon was paid, placed on paid leave, pending an investigation,” Kroll said. “That investigation came back. And that article links to the investigation. You can see it. It’s a one-pager. The bottom line of the investigation was this—there was no evidence and it was inconclusive.”

However, the word “inconclusive” does not appear anywhere in the summary of the investigation, which is three pages long. Instead, Attorney Margaret Doyle Fitzpatrick, who conducted the investigation, writes on page one:

“It is my opinion, taking into account all direct and circumstantial evidence, and applying the preponderance of evidence standard that is more likely than not that on or about October 24, 2012 in San Diego, California, that after (Jane) initially agreed to have sex with Braylon Oliver, when she told him to ‘Stop, [that] he was hurting her,’ Braylon refused to stop, and covered her mouth to keep her quiet and continued the act over her clear objections.”

Fitzpatrick reiterates her opinion on page two, stating: “Based upon these interviews, I find there is a preponderance of evidence (more likely than not) that . . . Braylon forced sex with (Jane) after she told him to ‘Stop! You are hurting me!’”

TRR reached out to Churchome to explain the apparent error in Kroll’s statement but the church did not respond.

Churchome CEO David Kroll – Clip #1

 

Oliver Investigation – December 19, 2018

Oliver-Investigation-Summary_Redacted (1)

 

Kroll claims text thread “snippet” left false impression

Kroll further claims in the video that text messages published by TRR between “Jane” and Churchome Co-Lead Pastor Chelsea Smith left a false impression.

“To be honest, (the article) shows one small snippet of that thread,” Kroll said. “And it lacks a lot of context, which makes Chelsea seem very unempathetic, and like the church does not care about the pain of this individual. It couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

Kroll states that the text thread was begun by Chelsea when Oliver applied for the donor management job at Churchome. Kroll further states that Chelsea tried to call Jane several times, but Jane “never picked up the phone or responded to those calls.”

Chelsea Smith Churchome
Churchome Co-Lead Pastor Chelsea Smith (Source: Facebook)

He adds, “But I want you guys to know that, at least, the text thread ended with this individual—and that’s not reflected here—saying that she felt cared for, heard, listened to by Chelsea. And obviously that was not going to make its way into the article.”

Kroll is correct in saying that Chelsea initiated the communication about Oliver with Jane, which was reflected in our earlier reporting. But his claim that the text thread ended with Jane saying that she felt cared for does not match the documentation obtained by TRR. (See PDF at the end of this section for the full text thread between Chelsea and Jane.)

On July 30, 2022, Chelsea texted Jane, stating, “I have something fun would love to run by you to get your opinion if you have a few minutes sometime?”

Jane, not realizing that Chelsea was referring to Churchome possibly hiring Jane’s alleged rapist, replied, “O sure! Now works if you’re (sic) free?” Jane also sent some pictures of herself from a recent photo shoot to Chelsea.

The two then talked on the phone. As reported in our previous article, Chelsea urged Jane on that call to forgive Oliver, Jane alleges, and called what Oliver had done to Jane a “mistake.”

The two didn’t correspond again until Aug. 11. So, Jane sent Chelsea a text, urging Churchome not to hire Oliver and “play into the hypocrisy that we’re seeing plague so many churches and our community.”

Three days later, Chelsea responded, saying she’ll pass Jane’s concerns to Chericka Johnson, “the hiring manager for the position.”

Several weeks pass. Then, on Tuesday, September 13, Jane texted Chelsea asking for an update. Chelsea responds that she and Judah have been in Singapore but get back on Thursday and will call Jane then.

The two then exchange several texts, finally agreeing to talk at 1:30 on Friday.

However, at 11:19 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 16, Churchome sent email announcing that it had hired Oliver as its donor relations manager.

Jane then sent Chelsea a text, “Chelsea it is very clear where you stand. There is no need to have a conversation today.”

Chelsea responded, “I’m so sorry you didn’t hear from me about the outcome. The hiring manager for the position considered all the factors, honored your request to make sure to be completely aware of what had happened, read the report and made the decision. I understand you don’t want to talk right now but please know my phone is always open to you!”

Churchome CEO David Kroll – Clip #2

 

Full text thread between Churchome co-lead pastor Chelsea Smith and “Jane” from Aug. and Sept. 2022

Chelsea-Text-Thread_Redacted

 

More vague allegations

TRR also has obtained communication on Slack from Churchome Senior Executive Assistant Christy Adams to staff members.

In it, Adams reiterates Kroll’s assertion that “an article has been published and contains several inaccuracies about Churchome, Judah & Chelsea Smith, and Braylon Oliver.”

Adams doesn’t name any of the alleged “inaccuracies” but assures staff that Churchome “took immediate and appropriate steps with both parties when Churchome became aware of an allegation of misconduct occurring in 2012.”

Adams assures staff that “the safety and well-being of our community are always our top priority.”

She also says the church is “committed to transparency and accountability.” She then states if “any community members reach out with questions about this news article, we request you do not share any information” but have them email [email protected]. Adams directs staff to contact her or Churchome Executive Pastor Mark Venti if they have questions or “want to process this further.”

Christy Adams Churchome
Message on Slack from Churchome Sr. Exec. Asst. Christy Adams

TRR has received no written requests for corrections to any information in our previous article. We reached out to Churchome, requesting to know what inaccuracies Adams is referring to, but Churchome did not respond.

TRR made one change to our Feb. 15 article in response to an objection Kroll mentioned in his video. We had written that in 2019, Oliver stepped away from pastoring. And in the next sentence we said that the reason he did so, according to a statement by “Churchome,” was because his “then-girlfriend” had accused him of “inappropriate conduct. The construction was confusing, giving the impression that in 2019, “Jane” was still Oliver’s girlfriend. The sentence now reads that Oliver’s “former girlfriend” had accused him of “inappropriate conduct.”

Full Video of Meeting Between David Kroll & Staff:

Julie Roys is a veteran investigative reporter and founder of The Roys Report. She also previously hosted a national talk show on the Moody Radio Network, called Up for Debate, and has worked as a TV reporter for a CBS affiliate. Her articles have appeared in numerous periodicals. 

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16 Responses

  1. Vagueness causes speculation which in return sparks gossip. This is a destructive equation for any organization, especially a personality driven mega-church.

    I’ve seen it happen at each of the three mega-churches I was at. There’s no way for it not to, they are set up to fall into this trap. Secrets, lies, NDA’s, celebrity pastors, hush money payments, etc… Until the mega-church is no longer modeled after the corporate boardroom and led by type-A narcissist, we will continue to see situations like this in the article and all the other articles on this website.

  2. Clement, an early bishop of Rome, wrote, “When the heathen hear the words of God from our lips, they marvel at them as something beautiful and great. However, when they find out that our deeds are unworthy of the words we speak, they turn from this to blasphemy. They say it is a myth and a delusion.”

  3. Why is the law not involved and charges of rape laid? The answer is that Jane consented to sex but changed her mind in the middle of having sexual intercourse. It seems that Judah and Chelsea Smith or any of the staff do not believe the Bible as it relates to sex outside of marriage. Judah Smith also seems to be lacking any conscience as it relates to telling the truth and not misleading the people who have placed their spiritual lives in his care. The fear of God is absent among all the players in this soap opera claiming to be a church.

    1. Steven,

      When a woman says no, men are to back off. Under no circumstances is it ok for a man to cover her mouth, hold her down and penetrate her.

      This is rape, not “sex outside of marriage.”

      1. Tom, my response to Greg Culross sets out the answer. Based on the Lawgate report which TRR reproduced in full Jane agreed to intercourse but changed her mind during the act. The lack of confession, repentance and understanding the seriousness of the offence against God of having sex outside of marriage never entered into the mind of the leadership of soap opera called Churchhome.

        1. Steven,

          If one reads the report, Jane’s initial “consent” was coerced to begin with.

          And her “change of mind” – as you phrase it, completely negates the “consensual” argument being made in your comment.

          https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kjhafxrZBGs

          A video created for and promoted by police. If someone *freely* consents and then changes their mind, it’s *still* rape.

          I’m responding because the issue of coercion lies behind a great deal of abuse. When we don’t understand coercion, we tend to fall into victim blaming – and the church is no longer a safe place.

          To claim that Jane simply “consented” at all, is to wrong her.

          The fact that two guys responded to your original comment is encouraging. Thank you Greg and Tom.

          1. Yes Kay,

            The fact that a woman at one time consents to sex does not give the man a season ticket to have it any time he wants with her. It doesn’t give him two more minutes, twenty more minutes or two more hours.

            Steven, go watch the YouTube Tea video Kay posted. Jane was resisting temptation from a sexual advance from a church leader who had authority over her. Can’t you give her credit for that?

  4. It’s as the Bible proclaims!
    Judgment will start at the House of God!

    And it starts at the pulpit and ends with pew !

    We are seeing God exposing the deceitful and the morally corrupt without and fear of God!

    Ezekiel 34 had been laid at the feet of the Shepherds !

    And oh how they are falling !

    Repentance is far from the body of Christ in whole !

    Where will the sheep go when their leaders have been proven spiritual and physical adulterers !

    We must remember when a leader has accepted celebrity status he will surely fall because no servant of the Lord has been offered that status and never will!

    Let us only look UP to Christ and no other snd no equal for if we do we will fall abs be judged with them…

    1. Snakes will be snakes. 2 millennia and nothing has changed. Priests still eating the sheep because it is fun, and who is going to stop them? Not the sheep. It will take an act of God. Some horrible things will happen because God is not mocked. Do we really believe the Old Testament and what judgment can look like?

  5. “Churchome Youth Pastor Jamie Kraut states, “@Braylon grateful for who you are. […]”

    Eeeeeeew. The thing about using a content-free buzz-phrase like that is that it’s possible you’ll find that you used it in a context where it’s really revolting.

    Maybe Youth Pastor Jamie Kraut didn’t know what readers of The Roys Report know: that “@Braylon” told “Jane” that he would dump her if she didn’t go have sex in his car right then. Maybe Youth Pastor Jamie Kraut did know and doesn’t care.

  6. It’s as if their words don’t match their attitudes and actions. What a crazy, mixed-up world…

  7. In the following podcast Judah Smith talks about how his very young daughter’s bottom looks in her Lululemons. While he is describing this he actually moans. Please don’t take my word for it, listen for yourself.
    When I first heard this I contacted Chris Rosebrough, he ignored me.
    The perversion begins at the top with both Judah and his wife.
    Why in the world would a man of God preach about his daughter’s bottom in the first place?

    Fighting for the Faith with Chris Rosebrough
    Episode July 26, 2017
    Podcast name: The Story of Noah Like You’ve NEVER Heard
    01:01:50 Sermon Review: Hands and Knees by Judah Smith
    The part I am referring to starts at 1:15:55
    You can listen to this on the same podcast app where you listen to The Roy’s Report. I just listened to it again to make sure of what I am saying. It still gives me a sick feeling in my stomach.

  8. I’m embarrassed to say that I attended this church years ago, when his dad was alive and still pastoring. I would never in a million years ever step foot in this church again. Wow. Just WOW!!!

  9. Regarding the comments about the church that was started, grown and led by Pastor Wendell Smith, there was nothing at all to be ashamed about in Pastor Wendell’s church! He was a godly man who loved his church! I’m so very glad he is not alive to see what his son has done with his precious church.

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