‘They’re godless.’ Daughter says father is safe now after being held captive in pastor’s home

GRIFFIN, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News is looking into the background of a Spalding County couple accused of keeping elderly and disabled people captive in their basement.

Investigators say Kurtis Bankston and his wife were running an illegal group home.

Police say the pastor and his wife were actually spending their time running an illegal senior home in Griffin, where they were abusing at least eight elderly people who were locked in this basement.

Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes saw someone go in and out of the home on Valley Road Wednesday, but no one would answer the door when she knocked.

According to police, Bankston and his wife were accused of running an illegal senior home for over a year.

Police arrested the pastor and charged him with seven counts of false imprisonment.

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Bankston claims to be a pastor and said he runs One Step of Faith 2nd Chance church in Atlanta.

When Channel 2 Action News sent a photographer to the property Wednesday, the church looked abandoned with broken windows and a roof that’s falling apart.

Neighbors in Griffin told Fernandes that they had a feeling something wasn’t right at the home.

“We knew something was wrong. There’s a lot of police, a lot of emergency calls that we never found out anything about,” neighbor Joan Wright said.

An ambulance was sent out last Thursday, when someone called 911 and reported someone having a seizure at the home.

EMS couldn’t get to the person because the basement door was deadbolted. That’s what made EMS call Griffin police.

Fernandes spoke to the daughter of an 80-year-old victim who was held captive in the home.

“How can you do this? People today, they’re heartless. They’re godless,” the man’s daughter said.

We are not identifying the daughter or her father at this point.

The daughter told Fernandes that her father is somewhere safe now, but she can’t believe a pastor and his wife would take advantage of people this way.

“There’s no way in the world they can ever tell me anything about any type of remorse because it took time to do this, it took care and planning to do this,” the daughter said. “This was fraud. This was life endangerment.”

Police say charges are coming for Bankston’s wife.

Investigators believe the couple had control of the elderly residents’ finances.

Police said they were also withholding their medications and not getting them the medical care they needed.

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