An apparent pastor and his wife have been arrested after first responders discovered eight disabled adults, imprisoned against their will, in the basement of the couples rental property in Griffin, Georgia, Fox 5 Atlanta reported Friday.
Curtis Keith Bankston, 55, and his wife Sophia Simm-Bankston, 56, were running a “group home” for 14 months out of this location under the façade of being a church called the One Step of Faith 2nd Chance, Fox 5 Atlanta reported.
The Griffin Fire Department responded to a Jan. 13 call about someone having a seizure at a church on the 100 block of Valley Road, Fox 5 Atlanta reported.
The first responders had to use a window to reach the patient in the basement as the door had been dead-bolted shut. They discovered as many as eight people locked in basement, NBC News reported. (RELATED: Teen Allegedly Kidnapped From His Basement In Philadelphia, 3 Suspects Arrested)
#UPDATE: Griffin, Georgia pastor arrested for keeping people in basement holding press conference https://t.co/YREYa1vSD7 via @cbs46
— Cody Alcorn (@CodyAlcorn) January 20, 2022
All eight people in the basement had mental or physical disabilities, or both, and are between 25- and 65-years-old, according to authorities, NBC News reported.
Investigators determined that these eight people were “essentially imprisoned” and due to this, they were at severe risk should an emergency occur, NBC news reported.
The financials, medications and benefits of the eight were all handled by the Bankstons with the police discovering that medication and care was occasionally denied by the Bankstons, Fox 5 Atlanta reported.
The Bankstons have been charged with multiple counts of false imprisonment and authorities have stated that further charges are possible in the future, according to Fox 5 Atlanta.
The eight individuals have been placed by the Georgia DHS into more suitable housing and care following the incident.