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Georgia pastor, wife accused of keeping 8 people with disabilities locked in basement

Police said Sophia Simm-Bankston, 56, and Curtis Keith Bankston, 55, kept eight people with...
Police said Sophia Simm-Bankston, 56, and Curtis Keith Bankston, 55, kept eight people with mental and/or physical disabilities locked in a basement.(Griffin Police Department)
Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 6:38 PM EST
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SPALDING COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46/Gray News) — A man who claims to be a pastor and his wife are accused of keeping eight people with mental and/or physical disabilities locked in a basement.

According to a press release, 55-year-old Curtis Keith Bankston and 56-year-old Sophia Simm-Bankston were operating an unlicensed “group home” or personal care facility under the guise of a church known as One Step of Faith 2nd Chance and were the “caretakers” for the people found in the basement.

The situation came to light after first responders were called to the couple’s home Jan. 13 for reports of an individual having a seizure. Emergency personnel were unable to enter the basement through the door because it was locked and had to gain access by climbing through a window.

The investigation also revealed that the Bankstons were in control of the disabled individuals’ finances, medications and public benefits. Police were also able to determine that the individuals had been denied their medications and, in some instances, medical care as well.

The Division of Aging Services and the Department of Human Services were called in and the individuals were placed into suitable care and housing.

Curtis Bankston was arrested for false imprisonment and transported to the Spalding County Jail. The investigation is ongoing and charges against Sophia Bankston are coming, according to the Griffin Police Department.

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