The spiritual leader of a South Jersey church stood accused of having a sexual relationship with a teenage girl.
New Life in Christ Ministries Bishop James Simmons Jr. turned himself into Franklin Township Police arrested Wednesday morning after allegations arose that the 64-year-old bishop of the Malaga church carried on a four-year relationship with a woman who was 17 when the relationship began.
Police didn’t reveal many details about the relationship but they did say that the now 21-year-old woman isn’t affiliated with the church and that none of the sexual incidents appeared to have occurred at the church on Delsea Drive.
Simmons, who according to the church’s website has been married for 38 years and is a father of five, has served the New Life in Christ Ministries since 1981. His arrest stunned churchgoers.
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"I don't think it's true," said churchgoer Shantel Withers. “He's a great man, he will help anybody, he would take his shirt off his back and give it to someone."
Simmons posted $150,000 bail. Reached by phone late Thursday, Simmons said he had no comment.