• Eight patients, believed to be mentally or physically disabled, were imprisoned inside a man's basement in Georgia
  • The man and his wife were both arrested and charged with false imprisonment
  • Their patients have been placed in the care of the Department of Human Services

A self-styled pastor in Spalding County, Georgia, and his wife were arrested this week over accusations that they kept several disabled people aged between 25 and 65 in an unlicensed group home that the couple operated out of a basement.

Curtis Keith Bankston and Sophia Simms-Bankston, aged 55 and 56, respectively, held at least eight patients against their will in the basement of a house they leased along Griffin's Valley Road, the city's police department said in a statement.

The couple allegedly disguised the unlicensed personal care facility as a church called One Step of Faith 2nd Chance.

"Most, if not all," of the patients were mentally or physically disabled, and the Bankstons acted as their "caretakers," using a deadbolt to lock them inside the basement during certain parts of the day, according to authorities.

Curtis and his wife were able to control the victims' finances, medications and public benefits with their positions, police said. Additionally, they also denied the patients medication as well as medical care in some cases.

Authorities discovered the group living in the basement after first responders entered the home over a report of a person having a seizure on Jan. 13.

Responders were forced to call police as the basement door was deadbolted and the patient was inside.

Curtis was arrested Tuesday and charged with false imprisonment before being booked into the Spalding County Jail, the New York Post reported.

Sophia was apprehended Thursday morning on the same charge and taken to the same jail as her husband, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Dexter Wimbish, the couple's lawyer, claimed that the patients were fed three times each day and that he had checks to prove that “many” of them had conservators controlling their finances that paid money directly to Curtis' church for room and board, according to the outlet.

"At no time was anybody held against their will. There was no kidnapping," Wimbish said.

Authorities have contacted Georgia's Division of Aging Services with the Department of Human Services, who are conducting their own investigation into the incident.

The Bankstons' patients, meanwhile, have been placed in the care of the department.

"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," Griffin police said.

Authorities have urged people whose family members were involved with the Bankstons to contact investigators at 770-229-6450, ext. 544, or email

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Representation. Curtis Keith Bankston and his wife, Sophia Simm-Bankston, allegedly controlled the finances, medication and public benefits of the patients they kept in their basement. Pixabay