Ex-youth pastor at Duluth church charged with sex abuse

This story contains graphic depictions of alleged sexual abuse.

A former youth pastor at a Duluth church was jailed Tuesday and charged with sexually abusing five teenage girls. St. Louis County prosecutors said that Jackson M. Gatlin, 35, assaulted the teens between 2007 and 2010 while he worked at Vineyard Church.

In one alleged incident, Gatlin assaulted a girl who was in her early teens during a bus trip to the Twin Cities. He was 22 at the time.

Gatlin is the son of former pastors Michael and Brenda Gatlin. The couple resigned earlier this year amid concerns that they failed to act. According to a timeline of the church’s response to the allegations, church leaders fired Jackson Gatlin in February for refusing to meet with private investigators whom the church had hired.

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In another alleged incident, prosecutors said that in late 2007, Gatlin invited a 16-year-old girl to his parents’ house to watch football. He allegedly pinned the teen to a futon and forcibly penetrated her vagina with his fingers.

The girl ran from the house without her shoes. After her mother found the teen barefoot in the street crying, the woman called Brenda Gatlin, who allegedly said “we know your daughter has issues,” and hung up the phone.

Church leaders said that they were first informed about the allegations against Jackson Gatlin in October 2022 by a person who'd participated in youth group activities in the early 2000s.

The church said that Assistant Pastor Clint Considine made an initial report to Duluth police in November, though he had few details of the allegations and did not know the alleged victims' names.

In a statement accompanying the timeline, church leaders say they're “working to develop a culture that is more resistant to abuse and toxicity” and encourage anyone with information to contact police.