Home News Posing as a Pastor, Man Had at Least 10 Wives, Prosecutors Say

Posing as a Pastor, Man Had at Least 10 Wives, Prosecutors Say

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Posing as a Pastor, Man Had at Least 10 Wives, Prosecutors Say

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He traveled around the country, visiting small Black churches, where he presented himself as a pastor or a bishop.

But prosecutors said they had found no evidence that Orlando Coleman, 51, of Houston, was a member of the clergy and they contend he used the claim to win the trust of churchgoing women — at least 10 of whom he married over the last two decades.

It was a long con that came to an end last week, prosecutors said, when Mr. Coleman was sentenced to three years in prison after he married a woman in Kentucky, violating the conditions of his probation on a bigamy charge.

Orlando ColemanCredit…Houston Police Department

Vanessa Goussen, an assistant district attorney in Harris County, Texas, who prosecuted Mr. Coleman, said that investigators believe that his first marriage was in 2001 and that he married women for financial gain.

Over the years, she said, Mr. Coleman traveled to Delaware, Texas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia and other states to meet women.

After introducing himself as a Protestant pastor or bishop, he would propose marriage to bolster his claim to be a member of the clergy, Ms. Goussen said. If a woman accepted, she said, he would move in with her and she would pay for his housing, food and bills.

“That’s the only thing he had to offer and to validate his word — the proposal to marry — that was something big,” Ms. Goussen said in an interview on Wednesday. “Getting proposed to was a big gesture for these women, and that corroborated his guise that he’s a godly person.”

After Mr. Coleman left his wives, the prosecutor said, some of them filed for divorce.

Mr. Coleman’s lawyer did not respond on Wednesday and Thursday to messages seeking comment. Two of the women Mr. Coleman married could not be reached at numbers listed under their names.

Prosecutors said Mr. Coleman’s con began to unravel after he married a Houston woman in 2021. Five months into their marriage, Mr. Coleman’s new wife found out that he was receiving money from a woman in Virginia, prosecutors said.

According to court documents, the wife in Houston contacted the woman in Virginia on Facebook, and they began to discuss Mr. Coleman.

The woman in Virginia told Mr. Coleman’s wife in Houston that she had been married to Mr. Coleman since 2019 and provided her with a copy of their marriage certificate, court documents say.

The wife in Virginia told Mr. Coleman’s new wife that she and Mr. Coleman had never divorced, but had separated in 2021, when he moved to Texas, court documents say. Two weeks after the move, Mr. Coleman married the woman in Houston, court documents say.

The Houston woman contacted the authorities, and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office investigated and filed bigamy charges.

Mr. Coleman pleaded guilty to bigamy, a felony in Texas, in July 2023, in exchange for three years of probation and the chance to have his record cleared. But only two months after he was placed on probation, prosecutors said, he married a woman in Kentucky, while still married to the woman in Virginia.

After learning about the new marriage, prosecutors filed a motion to revoke his probation. At a hearing on March 11, a judge agreed to the motion and imposed the three-year sentence.

In a handwritten letter before his sentencing, Mr. Coleman had asked the court to continue his probation and to “not only judge my case but my heart.”

He said he never imagined that his latest wife “would come into my life and become my everything.” He said he believed he was free to marry her because he believed his previous marriage had ended in an annulment or divorce.

“If I knew getting married was not allowed,” he wrote, “I would have waited.”

Mr. Coleman also wrote of having survived sexual abuse as a child, and he said that growing up, he “didn’t know love on any level.”

He said in the letter that he hoped to put the bigamy charge behind him and return to the “church we pastor in Kentucky, helping to feed & clothe people.”

Next to his name, he wrote “PhD, ThD, DD,” indicating he held degrees as a Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Theology and Doctor of Divinity. Prosecutors said there was no evidence that Mr. Coleman held any advanced degrees.

Ms. Goussen said that Mr. Coleman’s victims, stung by his behavior, supported the revocation of his probation.

“From my conversations with them, they were very upset,” she said. “They wanted him to go prison because they felt this person abused their trust based on a title and they believed he would do it again.”

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