Another Hillsong East Coast Pastor has stepped down from the megachurch because of a sex scandal.
Pastor Darnell Barrett, 32, the creative director of Hillsong’s Montclair, New Jersey, chapter, resigned earlier this week after allegedly sharing a selfie with a church volunteer and trying to pass it off as an error.
“Hey! I think I might’ve added you to my close friend’s list by accident. I’m so sorry. Trying to figure out how the hell to edit it,” Barrett, a married father of two, allegedly texted the volunteer after sending the lewd photo of himself in front of a mirror while wearing only white Nike Pro tights. Barrett allegedly shared two photos from his “close friends” Instagram Story in February.
“Day 2 of kicking depressions,” the minister wrote over the image, which he also sent to a 30-year-old woman who volunteered for him at the Australia-based church’s New Jersey branch from 2014 to 2016. The caption for the second photo read, “TBH: Depression and anxiety got the best of me in the last 30 hours. Barely got out of bed yesterday. I’m just proud of myself for getting to the gym today, even if it was a cheap 30-minute workout. One of the insidious things about grief is its capricious nature. I’m learning to give myself grace in how I deal with it.”
He allegedly texted the volunteer several times to persuade her that she had only received the image by chance.
“Seriously, sorry about that. I guess,” he apparently messaged the volunteer after sending the pic, which he called “some real raw s–t I send to my friend’s man. Lol.”
“Haha, that’s alright,” said the woman, who later sent Barrett a harsher response before blocking him.
“To be honest, this whole ‘fishing’ scheme of yours to see if I will bite isn’t what even pisses me off. What pisses me off is knowing that I’m not the only person you’ve probably done this to,” she wrote. “I’m actually horrified by the thought of how many other innocent girls you’ve manipulated with this ploy of yours.”
Barrett responded, “I’m sorry?”
According to the Daily Mail, when they approached him for comment, he admitted to sending the explicit selfie and told the publication that he had just resigned from his position.
“We thought it was best for me to move on. I don’t want to get into the details,” he told a reporter outside his home, adding that he and his wife are “working through” his apparent “infidelity.”
He insisted to the publication that the explicit photos were shared as an “honest mistake” and that he informed his wife as soon as it happened.
The anonymous former volunteer apparently didn’t buy it, as Barrett reportedly reached out earlier this year about visiting Austin, where she now lives, despite barely knowing her. “Hey! I’m looking to come to Austin to the most isolated (and scenic) place I can find,” he allegedly texted her in January, asking if she had “any suggestions?”
On the other hand, Barrett told the Daily Mail that he had no plans to meet with her. “I was not at all trying to lure her,” he said. “I get that she, within the context of what’s happening with Hillsong, that she would draw those conclusions.”
“But I barely know her,” he added. That was not my intention.”