A Suffield church will soon be looking for a new pastor after a Channel 3 Eyewitness News I-Team report uncovered a pastors phony past.
The I-Team first introduced everyone to Rafer Byrdsong in February. He was the pastor of the Third Baptist Church of Suffield and after parishioners raised concerns.
The I-Team starting investigating into his past and found that many of the records he gave the church before he was hired were fake.
He claimed he was a Navy chaplain. When the I-Team received his service records, it was discovered he was in the Navy, but as a cook.
The Chaplain Corps said they never heard of him.
No records exist for many of Byrdsongs former parishes, and officials in Florida and California said there were no records that the colleges and universities he claimed to attend ever existed either.
When the I-Team looked in to the school that supposedly gave Byrdsong a doctorate, it was discovered there was a school with a similar name that would give anyone a PH.D. to anyone who pays for it, with no classes required.
Upon closer inspections, all of the documents given by Byrdsong to the church when he applied to be pastor were full of misspellings.
The certificate for the doctorate even had the word diploma misspelled.
Byrdsong said, I often tell the congregation here at Third Baptist, don't get stuck going down memory lane, sometimes it's good to just take a peek and keep walking. The problem when you get down memory lane is that sometimes you get down there and you can't turn around and get back.
While digging into Byrdsongs past, his ex-wife was found. She said she divorced him and brought bigamy charges against him when she found out he was married to five other women. She said hearing what Channel 3 found made her sad, but it wasnt a surprise.
Pamela Mann said, Can he preach? Yes. Can he teach? Yes. Does he have the persona that would bring people to him, yes, as any good con artist would.
Armed with phony documents and a criminal record with felony convictions, Channel 3 Eyewitness News I-Team Reporter Eric Parker went to the Third Baptist Church to get Byrdsongs side of the story.
Byrdsong said, Whoever sent you that had no right to send that to you. I have nothing else to say.
It was only days after the I-Team exposed the pastor's phony past that the parishioners told him to get out.
The I-Team confirmed with parishioners and with people from the Suffield community that after the story aired, Byrdsong was confronted with his lies.
They said he admitted that much of what he told them was a lie. He was given one more Sunday service and was told to leave.
The church will take some time to heal before launching a search for a new pastor.