From Sexual Massages to Multiple Affairs: A Compendium of All the Scandalous Things Carl Lentz Did
Lentz exemplified predatory sexual behavior for years
In November 2020, Carl Lentz was ousted from Hillsong NY after it was revealed that he was having an adulterous affair with a New York City-based designer named Ranin Karim. Though his bombshell got him fired, it was only one of many affairs, according to leaked audio from Hillsong leadership.
Rather than a so-called “one-time mistake,” which is inexcusable but at least partially understandable, Lentz exemplified predatory sexual behavior for years, including grooming behavior, resulting in several sexual encounters and acts of deviance and he instigated.
Yesterday, however, it was announced that Transformation Church had brought Lentz on as a staff member in the role of the church’s ‘Strategist.’ Tammy McQuarters, Transformation Church’s Executive Pastor, told 2 News Oklahoma that they believe Lentz is restored and would be used to restore others.
“After two years of Carl being in his own discovery and healing process, he has shown readiness to use his God-given gifts towards the local church again. We believe in Carl, his marriage, his skill set, and his restoration. We pray that Carl, Laura, and their family experience not only their own restoration, but help others experience restoration by using their triumphs and failures to create resources for the body of Christ at large. We believe that this is part of what it looks like for the church to be the church.”
While the identity of the person who supposedly “restored” Lentz is a mystery, what is not is the long list of accusations against him.
After Carl Lentz imploded and took the reputation of Hillsong NY with him, Hillsong commissioned New York City law firm Zukerman Gore Brandeis & Crossman to investigate what went wrong. After two months of investigating, they ultimately ended up with a 51-page barn-burner of a booklet titled “Internal Investigation Report Regarding Carl Lentz and Other Matters” that was given to the leadership in January 2021.
Lentz’s participation in the inquest was conditional on him receiving a hefty severance (he was making nearly $300,000 in salary at the time) and the report reveals.
“It was not uncommon for volunteers and staff who had frequent interaction with Carl Lentz to report that such interaction had ‘caused’ them to suffer from mental illness.”
Lentz … described receiving frequent massages, though he would not provide details. In particular, despite his obligations to cooperate pursuant to his severance agreement, Lentz refused to answer questions regarding whether the massages he received were sexual in nature.
How difficult would it be to answer in the negative? The next portion likely answers that question.
Laura Lentz stated that she had ‘hunches’ and ‘vibes’ that the massages were ’a bit strange’ and that in 2019 the routine of Lentz receiving massages became more of a night time occurrence. Review of Lentz’s text messages showed masseuses quoting Lentz for the cost of massages and also other sexual acts, but it was unclear from the text messages if Lentz received only massages from these women or something more.”
“Last year (2021), Leona Kimes, who served as a nanny for Lentz and his wife for seven years and currently leads Hillsong Boston with her husband, Josh Kimes, accused Lentz of “repeated sexual touching” in a post on Medium. Through a legal representative, Lentz at the time denied the allegations.
In this report, however, Lentz, who describes Leona Kimes as someone who “got her identity from the Lentz family,” admits to subliminally encouraging a relationship with the married Kimes with whom he engaged in at least 20 but less than 100 sex acts which he described as “manipulated intimacy.”
“Usually Carl and Leona would engage in sexual conduct on the couch in the Lentz’s living room but there were some nights when Leona would ask Carl to go to the third floor of the house and continue what they were doing. Carl said they would do ‘pretty much everything you could do’ without engaging in oral sex or intercourse,” investigators said. “
The relationship involving sexual acts between Leona Kimes and Carl Lentz lasted from 2015 to 2017
Leona Kimes would go on to claim that Lentz sexually assaulted her, and described the grooming process, which included making numerous comments about her body:
(Lentz) would look at me and say, “Gurl, you’re looking good. You’ve been in the gym?” There was a lot of flirty teasing like this. I had been around long enough to know that’s just how he was with women. But after a while, the comments started to escalate. I remember being told, “after you have kids, we’ll buy you a boob job.” Looking back, I know I felt embarrassed, but I didn’t know it was wrong then. It hadn’t occurred to me that I had a right to not be spoken to like that, by my pastor or anyone else….( At one point), “he took my photo while I was laying out in the sun once. He then cropped out his wife, edited it with a black and white filter, and texted it to me, saying “sheesh girl looking good.”
Karim was not the first full-on affair.
While he was engaged in a relationship with Karim (in 2020) , Lentz also revealed that he engaged in another “inappropriate relationship” with a woman he met in August or September 2020 he listed in his contacts as “Germany.” He said he met her at a deli in Brooklyn.
“He stated that he saw this woman two times and that their contact was sexual in nature but did not involve sexual intercourse. He stated that Germany is not affiliated with the church and she did not participate in or attend Hillsong.
Investigators further note the following:
“Lentz’s ability to lead so poorly was itself the result of insufficient supervision and accountability applied to Lentz himself. Indeed, it appears that effective management and accountability of Lentz was nonexistent. What is more, multiple witnesses described Lentz as repeatedly reinforcing the idea that New York was separate and apart from Australia. Although Lentz denies it, multiple staff in New York recall Lentz saying that ‘Australia is dead to us’ and other comments to similar effect.”
As with much of his testimony regarding non-sexual matters, Lentz was not credible when defending his demands for cultural isolationism from the Australian parent church. The Australian mother ship appears also to bear some responsibility here, since it never established effective oversight and accountability for the New York Lead Pastor. This lack of oversight permitted Carl Lentz to assume the role of final arbiter of what was proper behavior for everyone in New York, himself included. With the benefit of hindsight, given Lentz’s personal limitations, this was a recipe for trouble.
Lentz is also accused of having also had an affair with a young celebrity in 2014, according to testimony from a former employee.
In late 2020, Hillsong responded to allegations made in 2018 about widespread and pervasive sexual promiscuity and sexual contact between certain church staff members, interns, and parishioners Hillsong NYC, acknowledging that many of the scandals were true. Later, it was revealed that Hillsong NY pastors had access to prepaid PEX cards, which they would spend on luxury goods and meals.
To suggest that long-time sexual groomers and predators can be restored after a couple of years on the outs, and are now in a position to ‘help others experience restoration,’ is a sad testament to the sorry state of Transformation Church and evangelicalism at large.