warning: The alleged acts of child sex abuse described in this story
are disturbing.

worship services began in Kenneth Fairbanks’ living room, but the
charismatic pastor had a vision for something grander — an
international church that would share the word of God throughout the
world, train and ordain ministers, and promote development to help
lift people in underprivileged villages out of poverty.

Ministries was an informal church designed to appeal to those who
felt left out by conventional religion; it offered comfort and
empowerment to worshipers looking for a new start.

Fairbanks’ 2014 book, Life’s
Perspectives: Wisdom for Everyday Living
put it, his teachings would allow “the average person to take
control of their lives” by “purging old hurt, pains, and
destructive thinking from the minds and hearts of those that would
experience new freedom and a productive mindset.” The heart of the
ministry was Kenneth Fairbanks himself. His author’s biography
described him as “a great visionary” with “compassion for
ministry and all people.”

bio proclaimed, “One of his greatest assets is his ability to sense
the heart and pulse of God. When he speaks, he does not speak as men
speak, but listens intently to the spirit of God, and then shares
God’s heart with his creation.”

the Greensboro pastor made his mark as a leader of a congregation
that grew to hundreds of members and moved into a conventional church
building adjacent to Whitestone retirement community on Spring Garden
Street. Fairbanks traveled several times to Nairobi, Kenya and raised
money to help build a school for an orphanage there.

home in Greensboro, Fairbanks raised his pastoral profile beyond the
church walls to play a prominent role as a community leader. In 2007
and 2008, Fairbanks and his wife, Shelia, served on the Guilford
County Disproportionate Minority Contact Committee, a project funded
by the US Justice Department and administered through a center at
UNCG. Kenneth Fairbanks served on the Greensboro Violent Crimes Task
Force, a police-community partnership in which repeat violent
offenders are offered a choice between community support or
aggressive prosecution. In 2015, FaithWorks Ministries teamed up with
the Greensboro Police Department to collect supplies for children
going back to school, culminating in a daylong event at the coliseum.
Fairbanks also served on Chief Wayne Scott’s Faith Advisory

Kenneth Fairbanks

But four criminal indictments allege that for much of the time Fairbanks was operating his ministry, he was also sexually abusing children. The alleged victims include his daughter, a niece and two other girls who attended his church. The four alleged victims are named in court documents but have not been identified in previous media accounts. Two are speaking out publicly for the first time.

Fairbanks, who is now in her late twenties, said her father, now 62,
began abusing her at the age of 6 or 7. According to the indictment,
Fairbanks sexually abused his daughter from August 1997 through
December 2006. The three other indictments, which uniformly accuse
Kenneth Fairbanks of “lewd and lascivious” acts upon the bodies
of minors under the age of 16, allege shorter periods of abuse
ranging from three to 30 months, continuing as recently as December

Fairbanks said her father kept her isolated from other adults and
took advantage of the fact that her mother was away from home
receiving treatment for recurring bouts of cancer.

would be in the hospital or doing treatment, and that would kind of
be his, I guess, opportune time to prey on me,” Fairbanks told
City Beat
“A lot of inappropriate touching, kissing, fondling. He would sneak
into my bed at night. That’s pretty much all I can say. This went
on ’til I was 15 or 16, and I finally found the courage to tell my

Fairbanks declined through his lawyer to comment for this story.

was released on bond after 40 days in jail, but was forced to
surrender his passport after a judge declared him a flight risk based
on his charitable activities in Kenya. Before Fairbanks was even
charged, FaithWorks Ministries had been evicted for nonpayment of
rent from the church on Spring Garden Street and the landlord had
donated the building to the Greensboro Fire Department for a
live-fire training.

Fairbanks is a good man who has been through a lot, and I want him to
be judged impartially by people,” said Brennan Aberle, his lawyer,
explaining why his client isn’t commenting while his case is still

Kenneth Fairbanks’ supporters cast him as a victim of familial
treachery, his daughter, Christa, alleges that he sexually abused her
for years, along with other girls, while isolating her to exert
control and extorting her silence by admonishing her against ruining
God’s plan for their family.

said she finally told her mother about the sexual abuse when her
father attempted to come into her bed during a family trip to her
Alabama grandfather’s — Kenneth’s father’s — funeral.

screamed, she cursed, she demanded that he get help immediately, or
she would go to the police,” Christa said, recalling her mother’s

Fairbanks pretended to go to therapy for about two years, Christa
said, but in reality moved on to another, younger victim. City
not naming the youngest victim, but the indictment alleges that she
was abused over a period of three months from June to August 2011.

finding out about the youngest victim is what made me come forward,”
Christa said. “I realized that, okay, I knew he had a problem, but
he doesn’t realize it. And he is not going to stop until he is
behind bars or he is buried.”

allegations of sexual abuse, first aired privately and then to police
investigators, have ruptured at least two families. Shelia, who has
stood by her daughter, obtained a divorce from her husband,
reclaiming King as her maiden name. The victims have found themselves
shunned by family members, while Kenneth Fairbanks has retained vocal
supporters among friends and pastoral associates, who have ventured
various ulterior motives for both the allegations of sexual abuse and
the divorce.

Fleming, who attended FaithWorks Ministries as a child with her
mother, told City
Kenneth Fairbanks touched her inappropriately when she was in seventh
grade, while she was visiting the Fairbanks’ home after school.

told City
when Christa went outside to feed the dogs, Kenneth Fairbanks called
her into his bedroom where she found him lying in bed. She said he
touched her arm, moved his hand over to her stomach and then moved it
downward and fondled her through her clothes.

said she had previous experience with sexual abuse by a family
member, and she recognized immediately that there was something wrong
about the encounter.

looked at me really deeply, I guess trying to read what my reaction
was,” Fleming recalled. “And I froze. And I stared back at him
like I wanted him to understand that I knew this wasn’t right. It
felt like forever just standing there staring. And then I yanked
back, and I ran out of the house, and I went to my cousin’s house,
who lives right next door.”

Fleming and Christa Fairbanks said the incident put their friendship
on hiatus because Fleming didn’t want to come over to the house
anymore and risk being alone with Kenneth Fairbanks.

said she was initially reluctant to talk to the police when Christa
Fairbanks contacted her to see if she and other girls had experienced
abuse. Learning that there was a younger victim ultimately swayed
her, Fleming said.

matter how minimal it was what happened to me, it still happened,”
Fleming said. “And hopefully it can be a piece of the puzzle to
make sure that he doesn’t keep doing this stuff with other girls.”

said when she told her mother about the abuse, she responded by
saying, “Well, what do you expect me to do?”

of accepting that her pastor had done something wrong, Fleming said
her mother deflected blame by portraying her daughter as being

“Even a previous member of the church told me that when I told my mom about [the abuse], she was scared I was going to tell everybody,” Fleming
said. “She told the church I was being ‘fast.’ ‘Don’t
listen to anything Brianna has to say. She’s just being fast in her
pants, and she needs to sit down somewhere,’ basically.”

with Christa Fairbanks and Brianna Fleming for more than two hours
last September. Fairbanks asked to delay publication to honor the
wishes of the prosecutor handling the case, but after repeated
continuances in the case, signaled her wish for the story to go
forward. Fairbanks provided additional details through subsequent
Facebook messages and a phone conversation during the course of
reporting for this story.

Fleming left FaithWorks Ministries, but she said her continued
attendance at the church for years after the alleged abuse was cited
to discredit her. It was having a child of her own, she said, that
ultimately influenced her decision to leave FaithWorks Ministries
when her son was a year old.

all the thoughts that I had suppressed about what happened came
back,” Fleming said. “I remember what he did to me. And I got my
child, and we left. And that was one of the things that my mom tried
to throw in my face when I brought it out: ‘Well, you let him
christen your son. You didn’t have a problem with it then.’

just brainwashed, that’s all,” Fleming added. “She can’t wrap
her mind around the fact that this person she’s trusted her entire
life is not who he has portrayed himself to be. I guess she’d
rather believe that he’s good than that her daughter isn’t a

said she continues to maintain a relationship with her mother, but
the price of doing so is refraining from discussion of the subject.

the various theories posited by Kenneth Fairbanks to explain the
allegations against him is that his daughter and other young women in
the church chafed against his religious authority.

think he was preaching what he should have been preaching; I think it
might have hit them the wrong way,” said Ed Cobbler, a private
investigator hired with state funds to work on the case on Kenneth
Fairbanks’ behalf. “His own daughter was rebellious. I don’t
think she understands how serious this [set of allegations] is.”

who has worked as a private investigator for 36 years and started his
career with the Greensboro Police Department in 1968, said he has
known Kenneth Fairbanks for 20 years. The two men served on the
Greensboro Violent Crimes Task Force and fed homeless people
together. Cobbler said he went into the case with an open mind, and
nothing he’s uncovered in his investigation has caused him to
question his belief in his client’s innocence.

you talk about inappropriate touching — not rape or intercourse;
that’s not alleged here — when you put stuff out like this,
you’ve destroyed a reputation,” Cobbler said. “Even if he’s
acquitted, people will say, ‘Oh, he just got off on a
technicality.’ His reputation is ruined. I don’t think he’ll
ever pastor a church. Fortunately, he’s maintained his innocence.
He’s a very strong man of prayer. I’ve been in touch with him
trying to keep him strong. But this has not been easy. I can only
imagine, as a man, what a toll this has taken on him.”

said via Facebook that Cobbler “was appointed as an investigator on
this case because he had some background information about Kenneth
Fairbanks, and it seemed ideal to have someone familiar with the case
working on the investigation.”

Fairbanks said Cobbler has harassed her by showing up at her
apartment and “demanding to know the truth.”

it got to the point where I — I called the police on him five times
before the DA actually stepped in,” Christa Fairbanks said. “The
last time he actually came to my home, he was so loud and belligerent
that I had neighbors below me come out and see if I wanted to call
the police. He’s yelling out questions in front of my children
pertaining to this case; it’s definitely not something I need for
them to hear…. Just being loud and belligerent. Trying to
intimidate. Trying to kind of force his way into my home. I asked him
to leave three times; he still would not leave. I got on the phone
with the police and the DA. Once he saw me reading off his license
plate he sped away.”

admitted that he tried to talk to the women, while denying that his
behavior was aggressive.

can promise you: my reputation in the community would speak for
itself,” Cobbler said. “Any attorney would say, ‘No, he’s
just the opposite. He makes friends with witnesses and perpetrators.’
I go to the jail and get confessions from murderers that they haven’t
given to the police or to their own lawyers.

was surprised that they wouldn’t talk to me,” he added. “One
person made up the lie that I was pushy and harassing them. That was
far, far from the truth. I will go to the door, and if they say, ‘I
don’t want to talk to you,’ end of story — I’m gone.”

said he hadn’t been aware that Cobbler was contacting witnesses,
and once he found out, he pulled him off the case.

did not ask him to contact specific witnesses in this case,” Aberle
said in a prepared statement. “Typically, I wait until we receive
discovery in a case before I set up an investigation plan. The
district attorney’s office called me and said there were some
witnesses who were contacted who were upset and did not wish to be
contacted by Mr. Cobbler. When I found out about that I called Mr.
Cobbler and told him to not have any further contact. He is not
actively investigating in this case.”


Ministries started in the home of Kenneth and Shelia Fairbanks. At
first, the majority of the church was comprised of family members,
Christa Fairbanks recalled.

everybody knew everything that was going on with everybody
basically,” she said. “It was a very tight, tight-knit….”

voice trailed off as she looked for the right word. Seated next to
her friend, Brianna Fleming during an interview at Panera Bread in
September 2018, the two women said in unison, laughing: “… Cult.”

find the way that my family became involved in the church to be very
ironic because they were already going to a church in Winston-Salem,”
Fleming said. “There were four women all in the same family —
single women with children. None of them were involved with a male at

said she sees a pattern in Kenneth Fairbanks’ recruitment of her

would always run men off from the church; that was one thing that was
very noticeable,” she said. “There would always be full families
that would come in as new members or guests. The women would stay,
but the men wouldn’t stay. It was always something about the men

said her stepfather was among the men who found Kenneth Fairbanks
alienating. And it was her stepfather as opposed to her mother who
stood with her when she stepped forward to allege abuse.

said that he had always had bad feelings, and that he was actually
just starting to accept him,” Fleming said. “So, he was really
hurt by it. And it caused a big rift between him and my mom because
my mom is still on that side of the fence. And my stepfather supports
me wholeheartedly.”

frequent church attendance and isolation from other families, Christa
Fairbanks said she didn’t have much context for what a healthy
father-daughter relationship should look like. But around the age of
11 or 12, she said, she recognized something wasn’t right.

started to realize this isn’t what it should be,” she said. “This
isn’t right. I don’t feel right. I don’t feel good about this.
I feel very — I feel ashamed…. I remember asking him — he
had snuck into my bed one night, and I lay there. I feigned sleep,
just in hopes it would make him leave faster. As he was about to
leave, I asked him: ‘What’s wrong with you?’ Because at that
point I understood this isn’t how a father-and-daughter
relationship is supposed to be. He said that he accidentally got into
the wrong bed and he thought I was my mom. Which, considering that
she’s had a mastectomy, I don’t think that’s very possible.”

her knowledge, Christa Fairbanks said, “penetration” didn’t
occur, adding, “I can’t honestly say that it didn’t [occur]
because I have a lot of just kind of blank patches there, which my
therapist said is my brain protecting itself.”

Fairbanks’ authority as a father and pastor was magnified by “a
vast collection of guns,” his daughter said.

would take them out and clean them and tell me I couldn’t tell
anyone because it would ruin God’s plan for us,” she said.
“Because he’s a pastor, and his church is going to be worldwide.
It’s going to be a megachurch.”

to City
Fairbanks apologized at one point for a graphic description. She
recalled her father touching her around the time she reached puberty.

he was alarmed that I had pubic hair,” she recalled. “And he
recoiled, as if I were a monster, and said, ‘When did that

Fairbanks physically abused her on top of the sexual abuse, Christa
Fairbanks said. One incident in particular stands out.

Fairbanks and Brianna Fleming had reached high-school age. They snuck
out late at night with their boyfriends. Christa Fairbanks recalled
that her boyfriend was driving them back to her house when her father
jumped into the street from behind a fence “like a ninja” while
brandishing a loaded pistol. They said they heard Kenneth Fairbanks
cock the pistol.

all started freaking out,” Christa Fairbanks said. “We thought he
was going to start shooting. We thought he was gonna kill us. And my
boyfriend backed up really fast. We were in a real-live chase.”

They drove to Fleming’s house, they said, and Kenneth Fairbanks was waiting for them there.

Fairbanks recalled that her father pistol-whipped her boyfriend and
called her a ‘whore.’”

said her mother sent her away to stay with family members in
Morganton, and the incident was never spoken of again.

Fairbanks said that according to her father’s account the judge was
sympathetic to his position being that he himself was a father with a
daughter and sentenced him to community service.

County court records confirm that Kenneth Fairbanks received multiple
charges in April 2006 — for assault with a deadly weapon, assault
by pointing a gun, simple assault and communicating threats. Marquez
Parker and Christopher Tinnin, who were dating the two girls at the
time, are listed as the victims in court records. Three of the
charges were outright dismissed, while Kenneth Fairbanks received
deferred prosecution — which typically involves dismissal in
exchange for community service — for the charges of assault with a
deadly weapon and assault by pointing a gun.

Fairbanks said her boyfriend was aware of the abuse, and the police
investigation into the pistol-whipping incident led to a wider

they actually sent a police officer — female officer — to
come and ask me: Was I being abused?” she recalled. “My issue
with that is she asked me about three feet away from my father. So, I
did not come clean at that time. I denied everything. I mean, he was
right there. After she left, that was the first suicide attempt I can
remember. Because, like he said, I thought that I had ruined
everything. I had ruined God’s plan for him. That was the first and
last time I tried to tell a police authority, until now.”


last time Kenneth Fairbanks visited Mogra Children’s Centre in
Nairobi, Kenya was in 2017, according to the Rev. Hannah Njoroge, the
orphanage’s founder. She said Fairbanks helped raise funds to build
a school to serve the orphans. Njoroge’s organization was able to
complete the project with additional funds raised in Kenya.

said in an email that the allegations of child sex abuse don’t
square with her staff’s impressions of Fairbanks, “as he was
really very good and clean, and to say molesting children would be
the worst-case scenario for an allegation. We know him as a very
powerful man of God, and that to us is just unbelievable.”

said Fairbanks was never left alone with the children at the
orphanage and slept at a hotel when he visited.

who performs marriage counseling, said the last time Fairbanks
visited he complained that his family had turned against him.

said, ‘I don’t have a wife who’s caring for me,’” Njoroge
said. “I told him my husband, we were praying together. My husband
said, ‘You cannot leave your wife.’… Pastor Ken told me: ‘I
don’t think I can do this anymore. Hannah, what am I going to do?’
From what he was telling me, the wife was on the side of the

said the allegations of child sex abuse against Fairbanks surprised
her because they don’t sync with his conduct at the orphanage.

nothing we can say that he has done wrong,” she said. “There’s
not any language or any sign he has done anything with girls or
women. We have never heard about any wrong anything.”

say they have made similar observations.

interacted with him many times, and I’ve seen him around females,”
said Ed Cobbler, the private investigator in Greensboro. “He always
conducted himself as a gentleman. He’s always been quiet. He’s
been involved in the community, but he’s not a flamboyant person.”

Wagner, who attends a different church in Charlotte, said he
considers Fairbanks to be a “mentor.” When Wagner was going
through some personal difficulties a couple years ago, Fairbanks
provided spiritual counseling to him over the phone. Wagner said
Fairbanks is a frequent visitor and beloved by the congregation at
New Foundations Church, where Wagner’s brother is the pastor.

watch people’s mannerisms,” Wagner said. “I never even saw this
man say anything inappropriate to any woman…. I know pastors who
are flirtatious with women. I never saw him be flirtatious with

Fleming and Christa Fairbanks said it was a different story at
FaithWorks Ministries, and that even while he was sexually abusing
children, he was also having inappropriate relationships with adult

her mother would downplay it, Fleming said that Fairbanks “did a
lot of inappropriate things and made a lot of inappropriate comments,
even to my mom.

was commenting on their behinds,” Fleming added. “You don’t do
that when you’re a preacher, you know?”

2016, FaithWorks Ministries was evicted from the church on Spring
Garden Street. Kenneth Fairbanks rented the church building from the
North Carolina Masonic and Eastern Star Foundation, a nonprofit that
owns Whitestone retirement community. Walt Clapp, grand secretary of
the foundation, said Fairbanks “wasn’t very good about paying his

recalled: “The one time I remember meeting him was the time that we
told him he’s going to have to exit the property. He told me his
wife had cancer. I said, ‘I hate to do this to you at this time of
your need, but we got to move on.’”

building was in such bad condition, Clapp said, that the foundation
opted to donate it to the Greensboro Fire Department for a live-fire
training. Assistant Chief Dwayne Church confirmed that the fired
department conducted a live-fire training on a building at a Spring
Garden Street address on Sept. 23, 2017.

than five months later, Kenneth Fairbanks was arrested and charged
with four counts of indecent liberties with a child.

of the pastor’s most ardent defenders was Brian Fairbanks,
Kenneth’s son and Christa’s half-brother.

father is a father first, a pastor, an upstanding citizen, a loving
father and a loving grandfather to a host of kids,” Brian Fairbanks
told Fox 8 News. “People that know him could definitely tell you,
you know, that this is not in his character.” Brian Fairbanks
declined to comment for this story.

siblings did not return messages for this story.

Kenneth Fairbanks and Shelia King had children from previous

far as I know, I have five siblings from my father, and two from my
mother’s previous marriage,” Christa said. “Her husband passed
away before her and my father met. He was a rolling stone. All of
these children have different mothers, different ages. Honestly, I
didn’t find out about half of them until I was 16, 17. And they’re
all older than me. So I have a lot of siblings. On his side, I only
have one that is supportive.”

Valentine’s Day 2018, Shelia Fairbanks had divorce papers served on
her husband in Greensboro Jail Central. The divorce was finalized on
June 4.

who continues to struggle with health challenges, declined to comment
for this story.

am really dealing with a lot right now,” she said in a Facebook
message. “Just not something I want to add to the list. Trying to
keep away as much stress as I can, but thanks for asking.”

Fairbanks has continued to profess his innocence.

offered him plea deals, because right now he’s facing four to 24
years,” Christa Fairbanks said. “Like I said, he doesn’t think
he’s done anything wrong. How can you make someone say that they’re
guilty when they honestly don’t feel any remorse or guilt?”

though Kenneth Fairbanks is prohibited from having any contact with
the four victims as a condition of release, Christa Fairbanks said
she took the initiative to meet with her father after he was charged.

you will get help, I will not press this any further,” Christa said
she told her father. “If you just admit that there is some type of
issue that needs to be addressed….”

said he cut her off, and responded, “I don’t have a problem. I
never did those things.”

Fairbanks’ most recent court date was Jan. 22, and court records
don’t specify the next time he’s due to appear in front a judge.
The Guilford County District Attorney’s office declined to comment
for this story.

Fairbanks said she’s been in therapy for seven years — a process
begun before she gave birth to her first son.

been in therapy for a very long time,” Christa Fairbanks said.
“Honestly, I probably will always be in therapy, just like I will
always have my meds. It’s not something that’s cured necessarily;
it’s just managed. That’s what I’m trying to do, is manage the
best I can.”

said surviving sex abuse involves a lifetime of reprogramming,
particularly with regards to establishing a sense of sovereignty over
her body. For a long time, she said, she “had to work through the
fact that sex is okay.”

just now as an adult approaching my thirties coming into my own
sexuality, if that makes any sense, because I wasn’t given the
opportunity to,” she said. “So, a lot of things have been
confusing because my normal was obviously not normal.”

and when the case eventually goes to trial, the outcome will likely
depend on whether jurors believe Kenneth Fairbanks or his accusers.

said she’s authorized two different therapists, a psychologist and
her primary-care physician to release her medical files to the court.
She said she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and three
different anxiety disorders. The court has a list of medications,
with a history of how long she’s taken them.

understand that these are allegations, but medical files don’t
lie,” she said. “Multiple therapists and psychologists don’t
lie. It had to have happened. There’s no way that my life
— psychologically and mentally, I would not be this damaged
had this trauma not happened. It’s just impossible to fake. There’s
no faking post-traumatic stress disorder.”

court filings suggest that the victims’ mental health history is
likely to play a role in the defense strategy as well.

Aberle, Kenneth Fairbanks’ lawyer, filed a motion for discovery
last year requesting “information that may indicate that any
witness suffers from mental illness, infirmity, impairment or any
kind of impairment of their senses,” along with information that
may indicate any witness suffers from drug or alcohol addiction; any
information “that may show bias, hostility or motive by any
witness”; or any criminal records or “prior bad acts” by

Fairbanks and Brianna Fleming said their only motivation for coming
forward is to protect other children from being abused.

“I have nothing to gain by telling something like this,” Fleming said, “but I have a family, I have a husband, I have a job. I have a lot that I’m putting on the line. I’m putting my children in harm’s way. He could react however right now.”

Fairbanks concurred.

children do not leave my sight,” she said.

women said they hope that that by speaking out they will help people
understand that it’s not okay to turn a blind eye or excuse child
sex abuse by family members.

not okay because what they’re missing is that the age at which
these things are happening is a very vital part of the child’s
development,” Fleming said. “Being taught at an early age
incorrectly about sexuality and what is okay and who it’s okay with
is extremely, extremely impactful. And can cause mental illness, can
cause promiscuity. It can cause even for that child to abuse someone
else because this is what they were taught as a child is okay. And
it’s not.

you need to tell on Uncle So-and-So, however old they are, however
long they’ve been doing it,” she said. “It’s not okay, and
they need to stop. And they need to get help. Or they need to be
locked up. Either way. We’re ruining children. Children are the
future. What kind of future is it going to be if we’re devouring
our kids?”

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