Charisma Magazine Editor’s Note: The names of primary sources have been replaced with pseudonyms (marked with an asterisk on first usage). This was an intentional decision made by Charisma and should not reflect on the witnesses’ credibility; four of the five women stood by their claims enough to let us publicize their names. After prayerful deliberation, our editorial board has chosen instead to protect the reputations and identities of those sources.
“I was blown away when John [Crist] agreed to do an interview with me for my senior project,” she says. “… I was shaking and so nervous to be around someone I had idolized for months.”
From a makeshift podcast studio constructed in her room at Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, Kate* was thrilled to be interviewing her professional hero, comedian John Crist. She and her boyfriend drove to Las Vegas in May 2017 just to record this interview—and everything was going great. When the interview ended, Crist even stayed and chatted with them for a while.
“I opened up about my mental health, what it’s like being in the industry, addiction struggles and how he inspired me to create this podcast and do interviews,” Kate says. “It was at this point John confided in both my boyfriend and me that he was a sex addict. Both my boyfriend and I felt it was cool how open he was about his past, and I continued to feel grateful and excited I was getting to meet my comedy idol. Moreover, I … was so excited to have a mentor I had so much in common with.”
So she thought nothing of it when Crist asked her for her number before he left. Or when he later added her on Snapchat and immediately began messaging her. Or when he invited her out for the evening—just the two of them.
Kate says she eagerly accepted, told her boyfriend about the meeting and then left to meet Crist. When she reached his apartment, he met her outside, suggested they rollerblade, and invited her upstairs to “grab a few things” for the trip. Upstairs, he gave her a water bottle full of raspberry vodka and poured himself whiskey in a Snapple bottle.
Drinks in hand, they rollerbladed along the Venice boardwalk and talked. He reiterated how talented she was and how he could help her career. He also bladed behind her so he could “enjoy the view.”
“I was truly blinded by his celebrity status,” Kate says. “There were a few moments I thought, ‘Hey, this is kind of weird,’ but the same phrase kept playing through my head that stopped me from leaving: ‘It’s OK. He’s a Christian. He won’t do anything inappropriate.'”
Soon Kate had consumed half the bottle of vodka Crist gave her. Intoxicated, they took off their blades and ran into the water. Once there, she says Crist grabbed her and tried to kiss her, and in her drunken state, she struggled to push him off. He told her in crude terms how much he wanted to have sex with her and continued to pursue her. In response, she tried to explain that she had a boyfriend and only desired a mentoring relationship with Crist, not a sexual one. Eventually, he relented.
She rollerbladed back with him to his apartment to get her bag. Once there, Crist again grabbed her, crudely propositioned her for sex and begged her to stay. She pushed him off, left and—on the verge of blackout drunk—called an Uber to bring her home. The next morning, she told her boyfriend what happened. (Her boyfriend confirmed to Charisma the accuracy of all points of Kate’s testimony for which he was present. On the points for which he was not present, he says her testimony to Charisma matches what she told him the next day.)
Crist later messaged Kate that their evening together was “the best day of [my] life” and that he couldn’t stop thinking about all the things he wanted to do to her.
“The one thing that stopped me from believing he was creepy is John so proudly parades his face as a Christian,” Kate says. “I’ve let myself believe that just because someone is a Christian means they won’t do something intentionally bad. But the truth is, John invited me to his apartment with the intention of sleeping with me after shaking hands with my boyfriend.”
The ordeal left Kate emotionally devastated and still—two years later—spiritually shaken. She says she struggles with “what it means to be Christian after being so disgustingly let down by a role model I considered a man of God.”
Unfortunately, Kate’s story is not an isolated incident.
According to multiple sources, Crist has exploited his Christian reputation and platform to harass, manipulate and exploit young women over the last seven years. The allegations include, but are not limited to, individually sexting multiple women during the same time period, initiating sexual relationships with married women and women in committed relationships, offering show tickets in exchange for sexual favors and repeatedly calling these women late at night while drunk.
Over the last 24 hours, Charisma contacted Crist about these allegations to get his comment. In response, he emailed Charisma the following statement (printed here in its entirety, per his request). In the statement, he admits to “destructive and sinful” behavior, apologized to his fans and announced he would cancel all future tour dates this year to focus on getting healthy.
“Over the past number of years, various women have accused me of behavior that has been hurtful to them. While I am not guilty of everything I’ve been accused of, I confess to being guilty of this—I have treated relationships with women far too casually, in some cases even recklessly. My behavior has been destructive and sinful. I’ve sinned against God, against women and the people who I love the most. I have violated my own Christian beliefs, convictions and values, and have hurt many people in the process. I am sorry for the hurt and pain I have caused these women and will continue to seek their forgiveness. I have also hurt the name of Jesus and have sought His forgiveness.
Over several recent years, I have privately sought and received regular professional treatment for my sexual sin and addiction struggles. I’m committed to getting healing and freedom from my sin and have decided to cancel my remaining tour dates this year and to postpone all future commitments in order to devote all my time and energy on getting healthy spiritually, mentally and physically.
Those closest to me—my family, team and close friends—have known about this battle for some time, and now you do too. I’m ashamed of my behavior and I’m so sorry for hurting so many people. I don’t blame anyone but myself. I’m responsible for my actions and I’ve repented and am taking full ownership. I realize it will be difficult for some people to ever forgive me, and I accept that as a result of my bad decisions and actions.
My entire career has been lived out on stage, and even though I’ve shared many of my life struggles with my audiences, I’ve lived in constant fear of the darkest parts of my life being exposed publicly. My greatest fear has been that those who have loved and supported me would hate me if they knew everything about me. I now humbly seek forgiveness and mercy and love—not just for me, but for those I’ve hurt along my path. I’m so sorry.”
Multiple sources noted to Charisma that Crist has previously said he is receiving counseling and treatment for this behavior—as early as 2014—yet continued to hurt others in the process. However, Crist has never made a public statement and apology like this before.
In 2019, few Christians seem better known and more influential than Crist. To those unfamiliar with him, that may be surprising; after all, Crist is not a pastor, ministry leader or worship leader. But Crist has risen to fame precisely because he’s what many young believers want to be: funny, smart, cool, relatable and vocal about his faith. The son of a Vineyard pastor, Crist is best-known for his stand-up comedy and popular YouTube videos satirizing Christian culture—including “Church Hunters” and “Christian Mingle Inspector.” (His website says his videos have been viewed more than 1 billion times.) He has 2 million followers on Facebook and another million on Instagram. That audience will likely grow when Crist releases a Netflix special, “I Ain’t Praying for That,” this November, and his first book, Untag Me (WaterBrook), in March.
He tours nationwide to sold-out comedy clubs and churches alike. According to Pollstar, he is one of the top 100 touring artists in the world. In 2018, he became the first stand-up comedian to join the popular Winter Jam tour, sharing the stage with Jordan Feliz, Skillet, Kari Jobe and evangelist Nick Hall. During that tour—the second-best-selling tour of Q1 2018 after “Disney on Ice”—Crist reportedly offered to trade women tickets for sexual favors.
“He would talk with women online on Twitter, Snapchat, whatever,” Jeremiah Warren, a filmmaker and photographer, says. “[He gives] them a free ticket to the city [where] they live that he’s coming to for a show. Then he will invite them to a hotel room for unspecified reasons. When they turn him down, then he holds the ticket over them and says ‘Why have you been talking to me? Obviously this is what you wanted.’ This is a very gross simplification and paraphrase, but he’s basically shaming them for taking this free ticket and trying to neg them into going to him in the hotel room.”
Warren says he first learned about Crist’s behavior in 2015 from his friend Lindsey*. When he spoke out about Crist on social media, he was approached by at least 11 women who were mistreated by Crist. That’s when he learned about what happened at Winter Jam.
Charisma could not independently verify Warren’s claims about the Winter Jam tour. However, these allegations were also repeated by another unrelated source who asked to remain off the record.
Similarly, Nora*—whose friendship with Crist from 2012-13 was sometimes flirtatious and sexual in nature—says Crist used to regularly call her and share exploits of “hooking up” and “fooling around” with girls he’d bring back to his hotel room after his shows at churches, ministry events and comedy clubs. (Nora defines “fooling around” as beyond making out but short of intercourse—to her knowledge, Crist never engaged in intercourse so he could honestly say he was a virgin.)
At a July 2, 2017, show at Calvary at Brookwood in Joplin, Missouri, Sarah* says she secretly witnessed Crist making plans backstage with a fan to rendezvous at his hotel room. He later told Sarah that conversation never happened.
Though many were afraid to come forward, five women agreed to share their stories. Whenever possible, their testimonies have been independently validated by other witnesses and copies of texts and social media conversations supplied to Charisma. These women have testified out of a desire not to ruin Crist’s career but to warn other young women not to fall for his manipulations.
“I would like to believe that our stories matter on a larger scale, and that the voices of several women are enough to at least make people pause before booking him or have some accountability checks in there,” Nora says.
Yet some evidence suggests certain Christian leaders have been aware of Crist’s behavior and—through inaction—let it continue unchecked. This is why Charisma believed it necessary to warn the body of Christ about what Crist has been doing behind the scenes. To be candid, our editorial team does not relish being in this position. We sifted through and gathered information for months before deciding to move forward with the story. Though the allegations against Crist are not criminal, we believe they are newsworthy for three reasons. We believe pastors and leaders who book Crist at their ministry events need to know the person they’re signing. We believe leaders who make Christianity part of their public persona—whether or not they are formally in ministry—should held to a higher standard. And above all, we believe the body of Christ must police itself and has an obligation to protect the innocent and vulnerable among us.
“The church should not be looking the other way when a Christian leader is preying on women,” says J. Lee Grady, director of The Mordecai Project—a ministry that confronts the abuse of women globally. “When Jesus talked about wolves in sheep’s clothing, I’m sure He included sexual predators in that metaphor. This guy may be a comedian, but sexual harassment isn’t funny. This behavior needs to be challenged, and the victims need counseling and support.”
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SOURCE: Charisma News