Pastor Michael Gatlin Son Charged With Sexual Abuse
Pastor Michael Gatlin Son Charged With Sexual Abuse: Jackson Gatlin, the former young adult and online community pastor at The Vineyard Church in Duluth, Minnesota, whose parents, Michael and Brenda Gatlin, resigned from the church this year after he was fired, was jailed Tuesday on charges of sexually abusing five teenage girls during his tenure at the church.
Gatlin, 35, allegedly assaulted the teenagers between 2007 and 2010, and is facing 10 felony counts, according to charges filed by St. Louis County prosecutors cited by MPR News and the Star Tribune.
When he was 22 years old, the former young adult pastor was accused of sexually assaulting a young girl on the bus ride home from a church function. In 2007, after inviting a 16-year-old girl over to watch football, he was also charged with assaulting her at his parents’ house. Gatlin is accused of forcing his fingers into the teen’s vagina while holding her against a mattress. After the assault, she fled the house, leaving her shoes behind, according to MPR News. When the mother of the kid discovered her walking barefoot in the street, she called Brenda Gatlin, who allegedly said, “We know your daughter has issues,” and then abruptly hung up the phone. Gatlin allegedly attacked a 15-year-old on a regular basis as well. He also repeatedly kissed and touched another 16-year-old girl throughout his early 20s.
The Vineyard Church confirmed Gatlin’s arrest in a lengthy statement published on their website on Tuesday. The statement was made by a special committee of unaffiliated church members who had been selected to help in their investigation of Gatlin.
“Today, our former pastoral assistant, Jackson Gatlin, was charged with criminal sexual conduct and taken into custody. Five criminal complaints were filed against him. To the victims reporting crimes against Jackson, our hearts are broken by your pain. We pray that you experience comfort, healing, and peace. We thank you for the courage it took to tell your story, and we hope that the law enforcement process helps bring healing for you,” the special committee wrote.
“We are sorry that the Duluth Vineyard was the kind of place where this kind of behavior could happen. We apologize to the reporting victims and the Twin Ports community. We are working to develop a culture that is more resistant to abuse and toxicity,” the special committee added. “Sexual abuse can happen anywhere. This is not an excuse for it happening in the context of the Duluth Vineyard community. Rather, this is a call for change in our broader society as well.”