The Democrat preacher contesting Georgia’s pivotal Senate run-off was embroiled in an extraordinary years-long legal tussle with an elderly parishioner who demanded to know if he was gay, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal.
Rev. Raphael Warnock sought a protective order against Maude King after she questioned his sexuality and tried to confront him in the pulpit in a bizarre bust-up at historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. once preached.
Cops served the then-68-year-old grandmother with a temporary ban from going within 100 yards of Warnock, who claimed in court documents he was the victim of a three-year ‘stalking’ campaign that left him ‘in constant fear for his safety’.
His request for a 12-month protection order was dismissed when the case reached court, however the feud would rumble on for a further four years after Mrs King retaliated by unsuccessfully suing Warnock for malicious prosecution.
Rev. Raphael Warnock, the Democratic candidate for Georgia’s pivotal Senate run-off, was in a years-long legal battle with an elderly parishioner who he accused of stalking
Parishioner Maude King demanded to know if Warnock was gay and tried to confront him in the pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2010, where Martin Luther King Jr. preached
Warnock, 51, one of the South’s most prominent black preachers, declined to discuss the confrontation that took place a decade before his 2020 special election bid to complete the remaining two years of retired GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term.
None of the candidates secured the required 50 percent of the vote so Warnock will face Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in one of two January runoff elections in the Peach State that will determine the balance of power in the upper house.
If he wins and fellow Democrat John Ossoff triumphs over GOP incumbent David Perdue it will split the Senate 50-50, giving Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tiebreaking vote and handing her party control of both Congress and the White House.
Mrs King, a retired teacher and Democrat voter, was more forthcoming, telling DailyMail.com this week that she was still smarting from the ‘lies’ told about her over the February 2010 bust-up.
She remains barred from attending services at the historic black church in downtown Atlanta, where she had worshipped for 37 years.
‘It is true he did take me to court and he did say I was stalking him and I was not,’ said Mrs King, now aged 79.
‘I had asked him a question in a church conference concerning his sexual orientation. I was a very active member of the church and I asked him that because I had some concerns about his character.
‘I was not stalking him but that was his way of getting back at me. He said it had been going on for three years which was just an outright lie.
‘They had my name taken off the church roll so I’m not allowed in church anymore.’
Savannah, Georgia-born Warnock was installed as senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2005, following in the footsteps of Martin Luther King Sr, who held the post for four decades.
A supporter of abortion rights and gay marriage, Warnock rose to political prominence on a campaign to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Act
Warnock was unmarried at the time of the incident with Mrs King but he wed 35-year-old civil rights advocate Ouleye Ndoye (pictured) in 2016 and they have two children, but divorced earlier this year
Martin Luther King Jr was co-pastor with his father from 1960 until his assassination in 1968 and his funeral was held at the storied church which was founded in 1886.
A supporter of abortion rights and gay marriage, Warnock rose to political prominence on a campaign to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Act.
In 2013 he delivered the benediction at the public prayer service at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.
Martin Luther King Jr was co-pastor with his father from 1960 until his assassination in 1968 and his funeral was held at the storied church which was founded in 1886
Republicans have attacked him as a far-left radical whose sermons have criticized the US military and Israel, though a number of prominent Jewish figures in Georgia have supported his bid.
Warnock was unmarried at the time of the incident with Mrs King but he wed 35-year-old civil rights advocate Ouleye Ndoye in 2016 and they have two children.
The pair divorced earlier this year, several months after Ndoye reported him to police for allegedly running over her foot during an argument.
Warnock denied the accusation and was never charged with a crime, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ‘it didn’t happen.’
His feud with Mrs King appears to have started in 2007 when she filed a small claims lawsuit against him at Fulton County Magistrates Court. The case was dismissed without prejudice a year later.
Documents in the two subsequent court actions suggest Mrs King made a number of complaints to church leadership about Warnock and demanded to see financial records before tempers boiled over at a conference on February 11, 2010.
‘During that conference, the plaintiff stood up and asked Dr Warnock whether he was gay. The plaintiff was told by members of the EBC to be quiet,’ Warnock’s attorney wrote in April 2013.
‘After asking the question, the plaintiff walked towards the pulpit where Dr Warnock was standing. Before the plaintiff was able to reach the pulpit where Dr Warnock was standing she was stopped by security.’
If Warnock wins and fellow Democrat John Ossoff (pictured) triumphs over GOP incumbent David Perdue it will split the Senate 50-50, giving Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tiebreaking vote and handing her party control of both Congress and the White House
Warnock, one of the South’s most prominent black preachers, declined to discuss the confrontation
Mrs King’s inquiry about Warnock’s sexuality seemed to stem from the fact he was unmarried rather than any suggestion he was gay, according to court transcripts.
But he felt so ‘threatened’ by the spat he filed a petition for a temporary protective order, saying he had been ‘verbally assaulted during a public meeting’ and that the elderly aggressor ‘attempted to personally confront him’.
‘Petitioner had to be protected from Respondent by the Fulton County sheriff’s Office, while Respondent was threatened with arrest,’ his filing stated.
‘Stalking actions have been ongoing for more than three years and are escalating in severity placing the petitioner in constant fear for his safety.’
A request for a 12-month protective order was dismissed at an April 2010 hearing at DeKalb County Superior Court, because there wasn’t evidence to prove the allegations, according to Mrs King’s attorneys.
She then retaliated by suing Warnock for malicious prosecution in neighboring Fulton County, claiming she suffered ‘severe emotional distress’ and incurred legal fees because Warnock ‘carried on a criminal prosecution … without any probable cause.’
In 2013, Warnock delivered the benediction at the public prayer service at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. Obama is pictured giving the eulogy at the funeral service for the late Rep. John Lewis at Ebenezer Baptist Church on July 30, 2020
Her filing said of the stalking allegations: ‘Plaintiff is a 69-year-old female, approximately 150 pounds, Defendant is a male in his early forties, approximately 180 to 200 pounds.’
Mrs King lost the case, appealed, then lost the appeal in 2014 when a judge upheld the lower court’s decision that it was a civil dispute and never qualified as a criminal prosecution.
‘I did not know at the time that you had to have been handcuffed and sent to jail. After I found that out I knew I would not be able to win a case,’ she told DailyMail.com.
Pressed on who she would vote for in the January 5 runoff elections, Mrs King, who lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia with her husband Fred, added: ‘That’s left up to the people to decide. I just know what he did to me.
‘We do want to turn Georgia blue. I’m gonna vote for Ossoff, I know I’m gonna do that.’
Warnock’s rep, Terrence Clark, questioned why the case needed to be discussed years after it was concluded.
‘This matter was settled years ago when the court dismissed the claim,’ he said in a statement.