Prosecutor reviews TBI investigation into Perry Stone; decision on case expected soon

Staff Photo / Evangelist Perry Stone preaches during a worship service at the Omega Center International in Cleveland, Tenn., on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013.
Staff Photo / Evangelist Perry Stone preaches during a worship service at the Omega Center International in Cleveland, Tenn., on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013.

Note: This story was updated Oct. 28 with a statement from the ministry.

The investigation of a prominent Chattanooga area televangelist may soon enter a new phase.

Tenth Judicial District Attorney Steve Crump said in an email Tuesday he has completed his review of a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe after allegations of sexual misconduct by Perry Stone and will soon make a decision on how to proceed. The news comes more than two years after the allegations surfaced.

The 10th Judicial District covers Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties.

According to a newspaper report last spring, the TBI began investigating Stone at Crump's request. This came nearly two years after several women contacted Stone's ministry with allegations of sexual assault and harassment, according to a Chattanooga Times Free Press investigation.

(READ MORE: Bradley County Sheriff's Office suspends ties with evangelist Perry Stone amid Tennessee investigation)

Through Cleveland, Tennessee-based Voice of Evangelism and related groups, Stone leads a multimillion-dollar ministry with a global reach. In July 2020, when the allegations of misconduct were first made public, the Voice of Evangelism board said in a statement it determined Stone's conduct was "civil in nature and not criminal."

The ministry put out a statement late Thursday in support of Stone and his wife in response to questions from the Times Free Press.

"The VOE board stands firm in its decision and unwavering support of Perry and Pam Stone and will continue to operate in true biblical Godly integrity," the ministry said in a statement released by spokesman John Rodriguez. "The financial health of the ministry is more vital than ever as we continue to experience unprecedented growth."

The ministry's statement did not answer questions from the newspaper such as whether Stone would continue to lead the organization if a criminal prosecution begins and whether the ministry is providing a defense attorney.

In the spring of 2020, the Voice of Evangelism board of directors received several letters from women employed by or connected to Stone's ministries, the Times Free Press reported in its investigation.

The letters described allegations of sexual misconduct against Stone, the newspaper said. These allegations included groping, showing that he was aroused, asking women about their breasts and unwanted kissing, the newspaper reported.

(READ MORE: Leaked audio: They defended televangelist Perry Stone in public. In private, they said he was living a 'predatory lifestyle' and 'false reality.')

In November 2021, speaking from the stage of Omega Center International, Stone suggested allegations against him were misinterpreted, the Times Free Press reported.

"People have taken me hugging and kissing them on the cheek wrong. I quit that. I'm Italian. My whole family holds hands, rubs backs. I didn't know you can look at somebody and say, 'Hey, how you doing?' and they can take it wrong," Stone told his audience, according to the newspaper.

The Voice of Evangelism board said in a December 2021 statement it conducted an "appropriate and intensive" internal investigation of the allegations, the Times Free Press reported. The board said it created a restoration plan in the spring of 2020, which included professional counseling, medical care, removal from social media and absence from ministry for between six and 12 months, with some exceptions, the newspaper reported.

(READ MORE: Cleveland evangelist Perry Stone says he predicted coronavirus; claims outbreak is God's retribution for gay marriage and abortion)

Known for his lengthy revivals, Stone began preaching at a young age, the Times Free Press reported in a 2013 profile. He founded Voice of Evangelism in the 1980s and gained a wide following through his sermons and claims of prophetic visions that he said anticipated, for example, a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.

As Stone's following grew, he flew around the country in a Voice of Evangelism plane to preach, the newspaper reported. Claiming to have spent 80,000 hours studying the Bible, Stone also developed a TV show available in 249 countries and built the $22 million Omega Center International in Cleveland, debt free, the newspaper reported at the time.

The Perry Stone Ministries website says he has written over 40 gospel songs, as well as a million-plus-word commentary on the Old and New testaments.

(READ MORE: Cleveland evangelist Perry Stone 'acted inappropriately' with female employees)

Today, Stone has more than half a million followers on his Facebook page, which sells products, and posts about his talks that he gives around the country and on YouTube.

Asked about its investigation, a spokesperson for the TBI said Wednesday in an email that "our case file has been closed," and directed questions to the Attorney General's Office.

Crump declined to offer further comment.

Staff writer Ben Benton contributed to this report.

Contact Andrew Schwartz at aschwartz@timesfreepress.com, or 423-757-6431. Follow him on Twitter at @aonSchwartz.


Upcoming Events