TALLAHASSEE — A well-known Tallahassee pastor was forced to flee naked after a husband came home early and found him having sex with the man's wife.
The details of the Jan.17 episode outlined in a police report, combined with Pastor O. Jermaine Simmons' address to members of his Jacob Chapel congregation about the incident, have been the subject of intense social media and Internet buzz.
The address, which was filmed and uploaded to YouTube by someone in the congregation, has been seen by tens of thousands over the last week.
In an address to his members, Simmons seemed to portray the congregation and himself as the victims.
“I’m hurting because I’ve hurt you,” Simmons said Jan. 22. “I can’t speak to people on the outside. I am not Tallahassee’s pastor. I am not Florida’s pastor. I am Jacob Chapel’s pastor. It hurts me that you have to defend my actions. You cannot defend sin,” he continued to loud applause from the congregation.
The scandal broke during the same week Simmons and the church were celebrating the 11th anniversary of his leadership. He was scheduled to hold a signing of his first book I Need a Man, which, according to his website’s description, “offers a fresh perspective on the issues of godly manhood and mentoring.”
Simmons, who is married and has a son, is well known in Florida's capital city for addressing the physical and spiritual needs of college students and the downtrodden. He established a cold night shelter and organizes the annual Back to School Bash, which collects and distributes backpacks and other school supplies for hundreds of Tallahassee children.
However, his recent actions outside the pulpit have brought him unwanted attention.
According to a Tallahassee Police report, officers went to the Sienna Square apartments on Capital Circle Northeast in the middle of the afternoon of Jan. 17 after a woman called to report that her husband was angry and had a handgun after he encountered his wife and Simmons having sex in the daughter's bedroom. The man came home early after the school called him to pick up his sick son. The school had tried unsuccessfully to reach the wife.
According to the woman, Simmons came over to discuss starting a business and providing less fortunate kids with clothes and shoes, but they ended up in bed together. The woman told police she and Simmons began “establishing a relationship” last October.
After the husband interrupted the tryst, he yelled, "I'm gonna kill him," and ran to the master bedroom for his handgun; Simmons fled the apartment naked and hid behind a nearby fence.
The wife then called the police and her husband left with Simmons' clothes, wallet and car keys, which he threatened to drop off at the church. He also threatened to expose Simmons on Facebook.
The wife told police her husband never threatened her and she declined to press charges. Simmons also declined to press charges. State Attorney Jack Campbell, "citing the interests of all involved," decided against prosecution.
After phone negotiations with police, the husband arranged to return Simmons' belongings. The husband turned over the handgun to NAACP Tallahassee Branch President Dale Landry.
“My prayers to the families involved and the church and our community,“ said Landry. “May God guide all our hearts and minds as we move through this period."
Simmons, who has led the independent church since 2005, said he won't quit.
"What I want from God, I have already received — that’s his forgiveness, " Simmons said in his address. "What I am asking of our members is your prayers and your forgiveness.”
In response, the congregation stood and applauded for several minutes.