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A traveling evangelist and his wife, who publicly begged for money so they could take their ministry across the United States, were indicted in Tennessee on child rape and abuse charges in connection with alleged actions dating back to Feb. 13, 2021.
Benjamin Garlick, 32, faces the majority of the charged offenses. He is accused of five counts of aggravated rape of a child, five counts of aggravated sexual battery, soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor under the age of 13, and continuous sexual abuse of a child, Rutherford County Circuit Court records show.
The pastor’s wife, 29-year-old Shaantal Garlick, was also indicted on two counts: facilitating aggravated rape of a child and aggravated abuse/neglect/endangerment of a child 8 and under.
In December 2022, the couple started started a GoFundMe campaign that, as of Thursday morning, has raised more than $18,000 towards funding the Garlick family’s purchase of a Ford Transit van.
The campaign, which included a photo of the parents with six children, began by quoting the Bible and explained that the family’s mini-van had more than 418,000 miles on it.
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“That van pictured here is now over 418,000 miles on the odometer and, by His grace, still chugging along. My first responsibility is to be a husband and father. Our vehicle allows me to fulfill that role while we travel together,” Benjamin Garlick wrote from San Antonio, Texas. “This year our family once again outgrew our vehicle, and while we were so excited to receive our [new baby] into our family, we knew that In the Lord’s timing, He would open the door once again for us to get the vehicle we prayed for. And pray we did. His timing is perfect; this week, He opened the door to find the van we have been praying for. Here we are with the new van.”
The parents said getting the new van was a “miracle,” even as they asked their “faithful supporter[s] and prayer warrior[s]” to help pay for the vehicle during a 60-day period of “special financing with no interest.”
“We need to raise forty thousand by February 7th to meet the goal. That’s as few as forty churches each giving one thousand, or eighty giving 500. God has said that in the tillage of the poor there is much bread, and He uses little lunches to feed the five thousand,” the GoFundMe post continued. “Please pray as we look for God to provide through His people once again for His ministry’s needs.”
A version of the message above was also written in Spanish. YouTube videos show that Garlick has often preached before congregations in Spanish.
On Feb. 3, Benjamin Garlick provided an update on the fundraiser.
“God has been working in an amazing way! Please help us in the final stretch to get over the goal!” he again urged donations.
Two Februaries earlier, however, the preacher, a son of an evangelist himself, allegedly committed the series of sex crimes that currently have him behind bars.
While Benjamin Garlick was reportedly held in Rutherford County on a $750,000 bond, Shaantal Garlick reportedly posted a $75,000 bond and was released.
Shaantal Garlick reportedly filed for an order of protection against her husband as recently as August.
Arraignments are expected to take place at 9 a.m. on Sept. 26.
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