GRIFFIN, Ga. — The Griffin Police Department arrested a man who claims to be a local pastor and his wife for running an unlicensed personal care home.
Investigators said EMS was called home along Valley Road shortly before 7 a.m. Thursday to someone having a seizure.
When paramedics arrived at the house, they said they found a locked basement door and had to enter the basement through a window.
We speak with the daughter of one of those held in the basement for a LIVE report, starting on Channel 2 Action News at 4pm.
That’s when they found eight people being held against their will in the basement.
“The ‘custodians’ have been renting this property for approximately 14 months, using the basement as a personal care home for the individuals, which has essentially imprisoned them against their will, which has created extreme danger as the individuals could not exit the residence if there was an emergency,” the Griffin Police Department said in a news release Wednesday.
The police department said most of the people living in the basement were mentally or physically disabled.
Investigators said the home operated as a group home under the guise of a church known as One Step of Faith 2nd Chance.
Police arrested Curtis Bankston and his wife Sophia Simm-Bankston. Investigators said Curtis Bankston claimed to be the church’s pastor and police said he was responsible for locking residents in the basement with the help of his wife.
“It was further determined that the Bankstons controlled the finances, medications and public benefits of people with disabilities. The investigation also revealed that these individuals were denied medication and, in some cases, medical attention,” police said in a news release.
The Division of Aging Services along with the Department of Social Services are currently conducting their own surveys of the home.
Those at home have since been placed in appropriate care and housing by DHS.
Curtis Bankston was arrested and charged with forcible confinement. He is currently being held in Spalding County Jail. Police said charges are likely to be brought against Sophia Bankston. Additional charges are likely for both once the investigation into the incident is complete, police said.
“It is both chilling and disgusting to see how exploitative these individuals were by people who were in a position of trust,” police said.
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