“A man who served as an associate pastor at Ernest Angley’s Grace Cathedral says he was sexually abused by Angley on and off for nine years.
The Rev. Brock Miller resigned in July 2014 after telling his family that, despite his deep love for the Cuyahoga Falls church, he simply could no longer deal with Angley’s perversion.
At the time, Miller turned down repeated interview requests from the Beacon Journal. But late last month, he contacted the newspaper and said he was ready to share his story.
“It took me these three years to heal and be ready to talk, but thank God I’m in a good place now,” he said in an email. “I need this closure. I want others to know the truth so that they can escape and find freedom as I have.”
Miller moved to South Carolina to try to flee his past, he said, but that didn’t work.
“It doesn’t matter where I go,” he said. “I’m never going to be able to escape this. It’s time to face it and to expose this man for the evil man that he is.
“I hate that he has gotten away with as much as he has for as long as he has.”
Miller was so eager to tell his story that he volunteered to drive to the Beacon Journal from Myrtle Beach to tell it in person.
During an emotional, 2½-hour interview, Miller spelled out in graphic detail the abuse he says he suffered from age 18 to 27 at the hands of Angley, the internationally known televangelist who had been a central figure in Miller’s life since he was a child.
Miller, now 32, says that although Angley never actually touched his genitals, his boss required him to disrobe and masturbate in front of him.
And on at least a dozen occasions, Miller says, he was summoned to Angley’s house for a “special anointing” in which the preacher would have him strip naked and lie on a circular bed while Angley massaged him.
Angley, 96 and still working, did not respond to an interview request made Thursday morning through the church receptionist.
“I know that a lot of people who weren’t raised in that environment don’t understand [why I would submit],” Miller said.
“I was so fearful of saying no to him. He basically owned me — my job, my house, everything. For that reason I was scared to say no. And because he was ‘the man of God,’ I thought I would be failing God if I said no.”
Grace Cathedral was all Miller had ever known. His mother, Lori, was singing in the choir while she was pregnant with him. She worked as one of Angley’s primary secretaries for 30 years.
“At age 11 or 12, he gave me one of his personal Bibles and wrote a note in it,” Miller said. “He asked me to speak at a youth service when I was very young. He told me he wanted me to be an usher when I was only 15.”
Miller was ordained at 17. The same year, he says, Angley chose a wife for him.
“It was an arranged marriage,” Miller said. “I had never dated anybody. She hadn’t, either. She was 15 at [the] time [and singing in the church choir].
“He called me into his office and … told me that she was the one that God had marked for me to marry, that God had marked me in my mother’s womb for her and her for me.
“Of course, at that point I had totally bought into all of it. And her and her family did, too, so it was like, ‘Great! My life is set.’ ”
They wed in 2004. He was 19. She was only 17 and needed her parents’ permission, which they eagerly gave.
About six months before the wedding, Miller said, Angley persuaded him to have a vasectomy.
The conversation was not unexpected. Miller was well aware of Angley’s desire that his parishioners remain childless. He routinely encouraged them to get vasectomies — and, according to many of the 21 former church members who talked to the Beacon Journal in 2014, he also encouraged pregnant women to get abortions.
“We were taught from a very young age that this is the Final Hour and that the world is too evil to bring children into,” Miller said. “You just don’t do it because it’s not God’s will.”
Miller now believes part of the anti-reproduction motive was that children take a person’s time, attention and money away from the church.
As an associate pastor, Miller had already advised other young, childless men to get sterilized. And today he is wracked with guilt about it. “At the time, my heart was in the right place. I thought I was doing the right thing. I was brainwashed.”
The first incident of the alleged sexual abuse took place shortly before the wedding. The naive Miller, then 18, was concerned about the shape of his penis and wanted to find out whether he was normal and could have marital sex.
“A lot of times, questions I had that you would typically go to your mom and dad for help, I went to Ernest because it was like God has the answer for this, so that’s who you go to first.”
According to Miller, here’s what happened:
Angley said he couldn’t offer advice unless he saw Miller’s penis. He said he would come over to Miller’s house and check it out. Miller was stunned, but reluctantly agreed.
Miller lived directly across the street from his boss in a house he says Angley built for him.
On the afternoon of Angley’s visit, “I was terrified. But at the same time, I knew that he was the man of God and he wouldn’t tell me anything that wasn’t for my own benefit. That’s how I was raised. You don’t say no to the man of God.”
When Miller dropped his pants, Angley said, “What you need to do is to go ahead and get it hard and masturbate to make sure that you’re ejaculating OK.”
Miller shakes his head at the memory.
“I didn’t know what was happening. … There’s not a gay bone in my body, not that I have any problem with that at all, but there’s not, and it was really weird and awkward and creepy.”
Miller said he couldn’t generate an erection with the preacher standing there, so Angley said he would leave the room and Miller should call him back when he was ready to ejaculate.
He recalls that when he finished, with Angley watching intently, the preacher said, “You’ll be just fine. There’s nothing wrong with you.”
Then, Miller says, Angley added, “Now you make sure you don’t ever tell anybody about this. This is to stay between us — you and me and God. … Nobody needs to know about this because they wouldn’t understand.”
“It was so, so weird and horrible,” Miller said, sitting in a Beacon Journal conference room on a cold January morning. “At that point he hadn’t touched me, but at the same time I felt very violated.”
After his wedding, Miller says, Angley would constantly bombard him with graphic questions about his sex life. Miller did his best to shut down the conversations, he says, but still feared pushing back too intensely.
Physical contact didn’t start until about two years later, Miller says. When informed that Miller had contracted a bad rash, Angley proclaimed that his problem was a lack of sex.
Miller thought that was ridiculous, because he had never had a rash before his marriage. He took to the internet to make sure. Needless to say, he came up empty after Googling “can you get a rash from not having enough sex?”
Still, when Angley told him to come over to his house the next time Miller’s wife was at choir practice, Miller gave in again, in part because Angley told him the rash could get far worse and even infect his eyes.
He says Angley told him to shower before he came over — and to not say a word about the visit to his wife.
“I was still naive enough at that point that I thought [I would get] a little shoulder massage or something to help relax me.
“It was a pretty big honor to be invited into his home because he never has people to his house. He really doesn’t. At that point, I’d never actually been in his house, and I’d lived cross the street from him for a couple years. …
“And I really did trust him.”
Miller vividly described his first visit to Angley’s house.
“He met me at the door. He had on his pajamas, his matching set of pajamas. He told me to follow him back to his back bedroom.
“As soon as you walk in and you turn to the left, there’s a big round bed. He had a chair sitting right next to the round bed.
“His house is just an old — a house like your grandparents would live in. Kind of a musty smell. And a lot of old trinkets from his travels through the years.
“It was kind of dark in the bedroom. I stood there ’cause I didn’t know what was going to happen next.”
Miller goes into tremendous detail about what he says happened next — far more detail than can be printed here. But, essentially, according to Miller, here’s what happened:
Angley told him to strip. Miller was shocked, and didn’t move. Angley repeated his demand, so Miller grudgingly stripped down to his underwear. Angley insisted he go farther.
“I just did it, you know. To this day, I regret it. At the time I didn’t know what else to do. I was terrified and so I did.
“I’m standing there naked in front of him and he says, ‘You have a nice body.’ ”
At the time, Miller was 21 and Angley was 85.
“That was so creepy and gross,” Miller says. “It was all just a horrible, horrible moment. I knew something wasn’t right about it, but I just wanted to get this over so I could go on my way.”
Next, according to Miller, he was told to lay on the bed on his stomach. Angley pulled up the chair and started rubbing his shoulders — “except it was more like a poking, prodding type. You can’t even really call it a massage.”
Angley gradually worked his way down Miller’s back and “spent a lot of time on my butt.”
Then, per Miller: Angley had him flip over onto his back, went down the hall to a bathroom and came back with a warm, wet washcloth, which he laid over Miller’s face.
The octogenarian again started at the top of Miller’s body and worked his way down. Although he skipped over the genitals, he prodded and poked directly above them, Miller says.
“I know he was trying to excite me. It wasn’t happening, of course. That was the last thing on my mind. And he’s telling me, ‘Now, there’s nothing wrong with it if you get hard. It would be normal for you to get an erection. You just think about your wife and about having sex, and if you get an erection that will help relax you.’
“I didn’t say anything. I’m just laying there with a cloth over my face, thinking, ‘God, get me out of this.’ ”
When nothing happened, the famous preacher began praying over Miller, talking in tongues and prophesying. After about five minutes, he told Miller he could get dressed. The whole session lasted about an hour.
“Then he says, ‘You’re going to need more of these sessions. The next choir night you need to come back.’ My heart sank. I didn’t want to go back, but again he kept bringing God into it. ‘This is what God wants. God let me know you need this to help clear this up.’
“So I said OK. I’m thinking I endured this once, I can do it again.”
On the next visit, the scenario was exactly the same. Over the following four to five weeks, the sessions were repeated five or six times, Miller says.
Wife finds out
The final time, Miller’s wife came home early. When Miller walked in, looking sheepish, she started grilling him, and he eventually broke down and opened up.
Her initial reaction was anger at Miller. “What am I supposed to do?” he responded. “He’s telling me this is God’s will and I don’t have a choice in the matter!”
Soon her anger was redirected at Angley.
Miller promised his wife it would stop, and for many years it did. Although the sexual abuse confused and frightened him, Miller says, he forced himself to focus on his work, which he loved.
“I just kind of dug deep and buried myself in my job. Church was my life. My job was my life.”
But when his wife became ill in late 2012 and Miller went to Angley to ask him to pray for her, Angley allegedly told him that, because she was sick and he wasn’t having sex, the rash might return, and he needed more “special anointings.” Miller says he argued with his boss but finally caved in.
During the next session, Miller says, Angley directed him to masturbate.
“It’s not something I wanted to do or thought that I could do. But at that point I was so broken that — I still to this day don’t now know how I did it, but somehow I found some place far away from there. …
“He kept insisting that this is what God wanted. Over and over and over.”
Angley then allegedly led him down the hall to a bathroom, told him wash off with a washcloth and then pour rubbing alcohol over his genitals to make sure he was “nice and clean.”
“It burned so bad!” Miller said, laughing at the absurdity of the request and his willingness to do it. Angley gave him the bottle and told him to use it every time he had sex. Miller threw it away. “That’s totally insane.”
End of the line
After a dozen more sessions, Miller says, Angley finally pushed him too far.
“This was my big ‘aha!’ moment,” Miller said.
According to Miller, as he was lying on Angley’s bed after a massage, Angley said, “I don’t think that I ever taught you how to give a good tongue sandwich.”
“That’s what he always called French kissing — a ‘tongue sandwich.’
“He goes, ‘Well, I don’t think I ever taught you how to give a good one, so I can teach you right now.’
“Instantly I said, ‘No!’ It just shot out of me.
“I don’t know how to describe it except for like suddenly the veil was completely torn and I saw him for who he really was in that moment.
“Before, I guess because he never actually touched my genitals, I could still somehow justify the things that were going on. But at that moment when he was going to try to make out with me while I’m naked on the bed, it hit me, and I thought, ‘This man is nothing but a fraud.’ …
“I knew I would never go back over there again. I walked out the door that night and in a way I felt liberated because I knew that even if it cost me my job I’d never go over there again.”
The work environment became increasingly awkward. Miller says Angley was well aware that he was disgruntled, and tried to win him back.
A couple of weeks before he quit, Miller secretly taped a meeting with his boss. He shared the 45-minute recording with the Beacon Journal.
The first 29 minutes consist of Angley repeating a handful of phrases over and over. Nine times in 11 seconds he intones, “Let the holy ghost take him over.” At one point, he chants the word “glory” 40 times in 30 seconds.
During the last segment of the recording, Angley says: “I beg your forgiveness if I caused you any wrong at all. I’m deeply sorry.”
For Miller, the apology was far too little and far too late.”