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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 May, 2004, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Downfall of a preacher man
Pastor Douglas Goodman was one of Britain's leading evangelists with the support of thousands - until his arrest over sex allegations.
Douglas Goodman
Goodman: Pastor betrayed trust

The sign over the Victory Christian Centre where he presided said it was a place where "Jesus Christ is Lord".

But Goodman's trial and conviction has revealed that behind the mission to take faith to the people, he ultimately abused his power.

Pastor Douglas Goodman was jailed after being found guilty of sexual assaults, but until his downfall he and his north London church were a pivotal part of the of the evangelical movement in the UK's black communities.

Goodman, 47, was born in St Vincent and came to the UK as a child. He was attracted to evangelical Christianity and when he became a preacher found that he had a natural talent for reaching out to congregations.

In the 1990s he became the senior pastor at the Victory Christian Centre in north London, a modestly successful evangelical mission.

But by the time of his arrest, Goodman and his team were preaching to congregations of up to 3,000 and boasted an annual income of 3.5m.

Preaching: Goodman had natural talent
Quite simply, the married father-of-four had turned the church into one of the most successful black-led community institutions in the UK. Many of the members of the congregation made donations through tithes - an ages-old way of funding churches through 10% of each parishioner's income.

One day the church held an "appreciation day" for Goodman and his wife, Erika. They were feted by hundreds of parishioners and crowned "King and Queen" of the church.

And Goodman had the lifestyle to go with it. He and his wife lived in the affluent Northampton suburb of Collingtree. He drove two cars - a top-of-the-range Mercedes and another sports car.

Goodman's downfall began when women complained to church elders that they had been assaulted.

Allegations surfaced that Goodman had groomed victims with presents and cash.
Spending: Charity Commission inquiry

While the elders were shocked at the stories, nobody knew if they were true and the women came to believe they were being treated like the guilty party.

Eventually Goodman was arrested. At the same time, the Charity Commission began looking at the finances.

In December 2002, the commission's team probing the Victory Christian Centre decided to close it down because it could not meet the debts that had been run up.

It found Goodman and his wife had "exerted an improper influence over those people responsible for the management of the charity's affairs" and it criticised the elders for failing to curb his influence.

The Charity Commission's final report, due out soon, will decide whether or not the Victory Christian Centre can resume its ministry or remain closed.

What is without doubt is that the Goodman scandal has left a hole in a community which regarded the church and the pastor as a cornerstone of their faith and a force for good.

It also raises questions about regulation: Despite being ejected from the VCC, Goodman immediately decided to set up a new church, Victory to Victory, in nearby Wembley and take his supporters with him.




SEE ALSO:
Pastor is jailed for sex attacks
07 May 04  |  London
Pastor convicted of sex attacks
06 May 04  |  London


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