Authorities have charged Rev. Stricjavvar “Strick” Strickland of the Second Baptist Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with sexually assaulting four teenage boys aged between 15 and 17 and also paying them to have sex with his wife while he watched.
A probable cause affidavit that was filed at the Kalamazoo County District Court last week indicates that Strickland, 37, has been charged with 11 felonies in relation to the alleged incidents that occurred between August 2015 and August 2018. Strickland, who has served as pastor at the church since 2012 and was previously president of the NAACP Kalamazoo Chapter, is yet to turn himself in through an arrest warrant was issued for him August 21.
The accused was also allegedly engaged in similar activities with his ex-wife while they resided in Mississippi some years back.
Speaking to MLive, Strickland’s attorney, Michael Hills, said they were preparing to turn him in. He faces two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct on a student as well as one on a 13 to 15-year-old. He also faces another count by force or coercion and four counts of human trafficking of a minor for commercial sexual activity. Three more counts of child sexually abusive activity have also been leveled against him.
“It has been two years since these allegations first came forward and Pastor Strickland has remained in contact and available. He is not running from this,” Hills said. “Pastor Strickland remains ready to turn himself in and deal with these charges accordingly.”
Per his warrant, he faces 15 years behind bars for each of the first four charges and 20 years for each of the other seven charges if found guilty, MLive reports. Kalamazoo County Assistant Prosecutor Christin J. Mehrtens-Carlin has also urged the court to bar the suspect from contacting the alleged victims, his wife Jazmonique, as well as any person under 18 years in the bond recommendation filed together with the arrest affidavit.
“Per the reports, the defendant and his wife would use their employment at Phoenix High School (in Kalamazoo) and to some extent, the defendant would use his work as a pastor, to find male teens to engage in sexual activity with the wife, while the defendant watched and masturbated,” the bond recommendation states.
Elaborating on the allegations against the accused in the probable cause affidavit that was filed on August 18, Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Scott Ernestes wrote two of the juveniles and one of their fathers first got in touch with him in 2018 accusing Strickland of sexual assault against them between 2015 and 2018. They commenced investigations based on the complaint.
The juveniles said they met Strickland and his wife when they were students at Phoenix High School during the 2017-18 academic year. According to their account in the affidavit, they alleged they were each paid $100 to sleep with Jazmonique in different instances while her husband watched. Strickland also allegedly paid them $100 each for his wife to perform oral sex on them so he could watch, MLive reports.
One of the boys was also paid to send nudes to the pastor while he also allegedly sexually assaulted one of them on another occasion. He gave the latter money after he told him to stop.
The third victim told Ernestes during an interview in 2018 his first encounter with Strickland was in 2015 when he was 16. According to the juvenile, Strickland allegedly offered him money in exchange for nude photos, adding that the accused also performed oral sex on him after he was coerced when he was 17. Strickland allowed him to drive his car in exchange for that.
The fourth victim told the detective Strickland allegedly paid him $200 in 2015 to sleep with his wife in their home basement when he was 15. He said he slept with Jazmonique in subsequent periods between that year and 2016.
Meanwhile, Strickland has denied any wrongdoing, telling MLive on Tuesday the charges against him are “absolutely preposterous.”
“All I can say for now is that we are prepared for this fight,” he said. “God will prevail.” The couple initially proclaimed their innocence in 2019 some days after the fourth victim was interviewed.