Ohio megachurch Grace Cathedral is being accused of swindling a 76-year-old with dementia out of $340,000.
According to a lawsuit, Bridget Pollard was coerced into sending the church a check for the large amount after telling the Illinois resident that she would go to heaven and spend eternity there if she were to send them the money, CBS reports.
#Ohio megachurch ‘STALKED' ELDERLY DEMENTIA PATIENT — then SWINDLED HER out of $340,000:— Michael 7546 (@mog7546) December 19, 2017
Lawsuit against Grace Cathedral in #Akron... COERCING 76YR OLD to send $340,000 Promising:
ETERNITY IN PARADIShttps://t.co/cCTkCxDt71
Pollard is being represented by the Cook County Public Guardian. The lawsuit was filed so the woman may recover the money in full.
She lives in a nursing home in Chicago, but the megachurch is based in Akron, Ohio. In addition to dementia, the 76-year-old suffers from bipolar disorder and is unable to make her own financial decisions.
“She was basically stalked by [the] church to give money,” Public Guardian’s Dawn Lawkowski-Keller told reporters. “The literature talks about how you’ll go to heaven if you give this money.”
Pollard’s niece said that the church took advantage of her aunt.
“I’m very sad for my aunt, that she spent all these years she thought she had a good friend, and a church she believed in, and this was all done in the name of God,” she explained.
The church has a history of financial issues as it has been sued in the past for failing to pay a loan that was taken out by WBN network, the church’s broadcasting wing.
The $3.6 million lawsuit was filed after Grace Cathedral Pentecostal evangelist Ernest Angley promised to personally pay back the loan if the network was unable to. Unfortunately, neither WBN nor Angley kept their part of the deal, and Beck Energy Corporation had to file legal papers against the institution.
While the case lies in the hands of the court now, it is abundantly clear that preying on mentally ill patients, particularly those who are elderly, is a horrific and immoral practice that should not be tolerated.