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Devine Debauchery

Seeking sanctuary for a rocky marriage, Saundra McFadden-Weaver landed in a church's sex trap.


As Saundra McFadden stood in the parsonage living room, she averted her eyes from her pastor's skimpy attire. The Reverend Ron Williams seemed at ease, though, with only a bathrobe draped across his solid frame. After a few minutes of small talk, Williams -- Saundra's boss, counselor and minister -- smoothly invited Saundra and her husband, Rickey, to join him in the bedroom.

They followed him up the stairs, and Saundra paused in the bedroom doorway. She locked eyes with another woman, also a pastor, who was reclining on a king-sized bed with only a sheet covering her nude body.

It wasn't a happy moment for Saundra, and she wanted to go home. But this was part of her marriage counseling, she thought, and she had to fulfill her husband's fantasies.

"Take off your clothes," said Williams. Saundra and her husband complied. As they got into bed and started having sex, Williams leaned over Rickey's naked backside.

"Get loose!" he coached Saundra. "You've gotta get into this. You've gotta make your husband happy!"

When they finished, Pastor Williams told Rickey he should "sample" the other female pastor. As he did, Saundra cringed. But then she told herself she was just being uptight, a square. Perhaps sensing Saundra's anguish, the other woman murmured, "You'll be okay. It will be okay."

Then Pastor Williams tried to couple with Saundra, but she pushed him away, thinking, "Not in front of my husband." Rickey didn't know that his wife and her pastor had been sleeping together for months on the pretense of trying to help Saundra learn how to heat up her marital sex life.

That night, Saundra and Rickey drove home in silence.

"I didn't wanna talk about it," Saundra says. "I felt like they were trying to make me into some kind of freak that I wasn't. Some kind of wild woman."

When Pastor Saundra McFadden's sexual harassment case against the African Methodist Episcopal church and Williams' boss went to court years later in November 1999, many members of her congregation were surprised by the scandal. During thirteen years of sexual harassment by two supervisory pastors, the respected preacher had managed to keep her congregations and even her family from finding out, though a few people knew that she needed a psychiatrist and the antidepressant Zoloft to cope with personal problems.

During the period that Williams and an AME presiding elder sought sex with Saundra McFadden-Weaver (she has divorced and remarried), she gave sermons so inspiring that the Reverend Emanuel Cleaver, former Kansas City mayor, called on her to cross denominational lines and preach at his church when he was out of town. She also ran two grassroots campaigns for city council. Both races were close. She surprised followers of city politics by out-polling councilman Troy Nash in the 1999 primary. As the top primary vote getters, the two met again in the general election. She spent less than half of what Nash did, and she lost by a margin of 14 percentage points.

Throughout the campaigns, no one had guessed that Saundra had a secret.

When Saundra McFadden met Pastor Ron Williams in 1984, just after her marriage, he led the congregation at a church she'd attended as a child -- Ward Chapel AME at 22nd and Prospect.

In braids and her best Sunday dress, she had sat in the balcony with the other children, eating candy during services. At Christmas and Easter, she would get up and recite Bible verses.

In a moderately religious family, Saundra was the only girl, and she had three brothers. They grew up in a rambling thirteen-room house where 71 Highway now cuts through eastern Kansas City. The home was always filled with jazz music and the rat-tat-tat of children tap-dancing.

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