KALAMAZOO, MI — A Kalamazoo pastor accused of sexually assaulting four male victims between the ages of 15 and 17 is said to have paid the children to have sex with his wife while he watched.
The Rev. Stricjavvar “Strick” Strickland, of Kalamazoo’s Second Baptist Church, has been charged with 11 felonies connected to alleged incidents spanning from Aug. 1, 2015- Aug. 31, 2018, according to a probable cause affidavit filed last week in Kalamazoo County District Court.
A warrant for Strickland’s arrest was issued Aug. 21. As of Tuesday, Aug. 25, the pastor was yet to turn himself in. His attorney, Michael Hills, told MLive early Tuesday, that the two were making arrangements for the pastor to turn himself in.
“It has been two years since these allegations first came forward and Pastor Strickland has remained in contact and available. He is not running from this,” Hills said. “Pastor Strickland remains ready to turn himself in and deal with these charges accordingly.”
Strickland, 37, faces two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct on a student, another on a person age 13-15 and another by force or coercion, according to court records. He also faces four counts of human trafficking of a minor for commercial sexual activity and three counts of child sexually abusive activity.
If convicted, the pastor faces a potential penalty of 15 years in prison on each of the first four charges, and 20 years on each of the other seven charges, according to his warrant.
In a bond recommendation, filed with the court along with the arrest affidavit, Kalamazoo County Assistant Prosecutor Christin J. Mehrtens-Carlin recommends the court not allow the pastor to have any contact with the four alleged victims, his wife Jazmonique Strickland, or anyone under the age of 18.
“Per the reports, the defendant and his wife would use their employment at Phoenix High School (in Kalamazoo) and to some extent, the defendant would use his work as a pastor, to find male teens to engage in sexual activity with the wife, while the defendant watched and masturbated,” Mehrtens-Carlin writes in her bond recommendation.
The four said to be victims in the case ranged in age from 15-17 when the alleged acts occurred, she wrote.
Mehrtens-Carlin, who is recommending a cash or surety bond of $500,000 in the case, said it is also alleged that Strickland engaged in similar behavior with his ex-wife years ago while living in Mississippi.
Strickland, when reached by MLive Tuesday, called the charges “absolutely preposterous” and said he still had no information regarding the specifics of the allegations levied against him.
“All I can say for now is that we are prepared for this fight,” the pastor said. “God will prevail.”
Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Scott Ernestes wrote about the specifics of the allegations in the probable cause affidavit, which was filed Aug. 18.
Ernestes wrote in the affidavit that he was first contacted in August 2018 by two juveniles and one of their fathers referencing a potential sexual assault that occurred during the years 2015-18.
At that point, an investigation began, Ernestes wrote.
The two juveniles told Ernestes, according to the affidavit, that both of them were students at Phoenix High School during the 2017-18 school year when they met the couple. Jazmonique Strickland, according to the affidavit, was a secretary at the school.
Both of the boys, who turned 17 during that school year, were alleged to have been paid $100 each to have sex with Jazmonique Strickland on separate occasions while her husband watched, the affidavit states. The pastor is also alleged to have paid the children each $100 so he could watch his wife perform oral sex on them.
Additional money was allegedly given to one of the boys to text nude photos to the pastor, the affidavit states. The pastor also allegedly sexually assaulted one of the boys and then gave him money after the boy told him to stop.
A third victim, interviewed in September 2018, told the detective he was 16 years old in 2015 when he was first asked to send the reverend nude photos in exchange for money.
Later, when the boy was 17, Strickland coerced the child into allowing him to perform oral sex on the boy, according to the detective’s affidavit. In exchange, Strickland allowed the boy to use the pastor’s vehicle, the affidavit alleges.
Ernestes states he interviewed a fourth victim in February 2019. The victim told the detective he was 15 years old in August 2015, when he was paid $200 by Strickland to have sex with the pastor’s wife on a couch in the couple’s basement. According to Ernestes’ report, the victim claimed this type of incident happened on other occasions during 2015 and 2016 as well.
In February 2019, five days after Ernestes interviewed the fourth individual, Hills and Strickland hosted a press conference where the two denied any wrongdoing had occurred whatsoever.
In a separate Kalamazoo County court case, Strickland faces an assault charge stemming from an incident with a former church deacon that occurred at the Second Baptist Church in December 2019. That misdemeanor case is currently set for trial beginning Sept. 30 in Kalamazoo County District Court.
Strickland has been pastor at Second Baptist Church in Kalamazoo since 2012. He also previously served as the NAACP Kalamazoo Chapter president from 2016-18.
There are no charges pending against Jazmonique Strickland at this time.