KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Court documents filed Tuesday show how police say a well-known pastor and his wife used their positions with Kalamazoo Public Schools and a Kalamazoo church to coerce and pay four teenage boys for sex.
The probable cause document, submitted by Michigan State Police, lays out the 11 felony charges against Rev. Stricjavvar “Strick” Strickland of Second Baptist Church, including trafficking children for sex, child sex abuse and criminal sexual conduct. Investigators became involved in 2018 when two of the alleged victims and the father of another alleged victim contacted authorities to report the crimes.
The alleged incidents all happened in Kalamazoo County between 2015 and 2018 with the teens, who were between the ages of 15 to 17 at the time.
State police say Strickland paid the teen boys $100 to $200 to have sex with his wife or paid them to send him nude photos. Two of the four alleged victims were students at KPS’ Phoenix High School where Strickland’s wife, Jazmonique Strickland, worked.
Reverend Strick Strickland also worked for Kalamazoo Public Schools for a period of time as a paraprofessional in the district’s “Middle School Alternative Learning Program.”
One of the alleged victims told investigators he was given a car and in exchange, he allowed Strick Strickland to perform oral sex on him. Another alleged victim told police that his grandmother had arranged for Strickland to mentor him and that Strickland and the teen met for the first time at the school.
It’s also alleged in the documents that the pastor engaged in similar behavior years ago with his ex-wife while they lived in Mississippi.
In February 2019, when the allegations first surfaced, Strickland and his attorney held a news conference at which the pastor vehemently denied each and every accusation against him.
Strickland said he worked with troubled youth in order to help them find a better path.
“We live in a disadvantaged, impoverished community where people are suffering, and we try to help people as often as we can,” said Strickland at the news conference.
“How dare we be able to offer bread to our brother who’s starving and not help them? So, yes, we do that as the word of God instructs us to do. We share our resources. We exercise good stewardship and do the best we can to help as many people along the way, and it’s very unfortunate that that is being seen as something negative.”
Strick Strickland has not yet turned himself in. However, his attorney told News 8 on Monday that arrangements were being made for that to happen this week.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Jazmonique Strickland had not been formally charged in any of the cases. Her attorney told News 8 he expects his client will be charged criminally in the case in the near future.
He also noted that Kalamazoo County’s prosecutor has not offered the pastor’s wife a plea deal in exchange for her testimony.
Kalamazoo Public Schools spokesperson Susan Coney sent the following statement to News 8:
“As we stated in February 2019, we trust law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney to resolve the matter appropriately. Kalamazoo Public Schools fully cooperated during their investigations.”KPS spokesperson Susan Coney