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.
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!”
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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.”
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, 2018Oliver-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.”
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. 2022Chelsea-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.”
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.