A pastor and his wife have been arrested after investigators discovered eight people locked in the basement of their home against their will.
55-year-old Curtis Bankston, and 56-year-old Sophia Simm-Bankston were arrested earlier this year.
Authorities say they discovered the victims after receiving a call on January 13th about a person having a seizure.
When they arrived at the home, the Griffin Fire Rescue say they were forced go through a window to get to the victim because the basement door had a deadbolt on it.
Once inside the basement, authorities found seven other people living the basement between the ages of 25 and 65. Many of them were said to have mental and/or physical disabilities.
They were “essentially imprisoned against their will, which created an extreme hazard as the individuals could not exit the residence if there were an emergency,” authorities said.
Investigators found that the Bankston’s were running an unlicensed “group home under the guise of a church known as One Step of Faith 2nd Chance,” in their home.
The Bankston’s were in charge of their finances, medications, and public benefits.
“It is both frightening and disgusting to see the degree to which these individuals have been taken advantage of by people who were in a position of trust,” police said.
Authorities also found that five of the people in the basement were wards of the state according to police.
The Bankston’s were arrested and are facing charges of false imprisonment, but authorities also reported that they could face additional charges.
On Thursday, Curtis Bankston and his lawyer Dexter Wimbish, spoke at a press conference to deny the charges against the Bankston.
“Everybody inside this home was here on their own free will, they were free to come and go as they please. No one was kept, held hostage,” Wimbish said.