The mistress of ousted Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz revealed the pastor told her he had paid “good money” to have her identity suppressed as multiple women contacted her with similar complaints about senior clergymen.
Speaking after news of their bombshell affair, New York fashion designer Ranin Karim, 34, said: “I’m sad about what happened between me and Carl, I genuinely loved him.
“When we broke up we spoke on the phone and he said ‘I’m sorry, I know I’m a piece of sh*t for hurting you, but don’t worry, I’ve paid good money to have your name kept out of it all.
“Quite a few women have contacted me through social media saying pastors and members of the church in influential positions have made s*xual advances towards them.
“I thought my situation was unique but now I’m questioning if it was. I was complicit in the relationship, but I didn’t go after Carl … when I found out he was married I told him to go back to his wife.”
Fashion designer Ranin Karim had a five month affair with Lentz.
The conversation about money took place after Mr Lentz had met with Hillsong officials last week ahead of his firing. Ms Karim says she has no further details of whether any money was paid or to whom, or if it was an offhand comment to reassure her name would not be released publicly.
Since her five months’ affair with the married NYC pastor, which saw him fired by Hillsong founder Brian Houston, executives have announced a leadership change at Hillsong East Coast and a thorough investigation into the church’s culture.
“We have heard from a number of people about their experiences and concerns,” a Hillsong spokesman said.
“It is important that we establish the truth and then do everything we can to ensure our church is both a safe place and one that seeks to glorify God in all that we say and do.”
Lentz with wife Laura Lentz.
Mr Houston last week announced an “independent” investigation into cultural issues at Hillsong East Coast, saying, “We need a solid foundation for a fresh start and new beginning. The best is yet to come.”
Since Lentz admitted to infidelity in his marriage, his wife Laura and three children have gone to ground, amid reports the church has put them in “safe place” in Los Angeles. Ms Lentz has also been released from the church but there is no suggestion of any wrong doing on her part.
Her parents, former Hillsong pastors Kevin and Marilyn Brett from the NSW Central Coast, are appealing to Australian immigration officials for an exemption on compassionate grounds to fly to the States to console her.
Ms Karim believes Lentz was subconsciously looking for an escape out of his “boring” 17-year marriage and revealed he would visit her New York apartment with bottles of Clase Azul tequila in his backpack for them to drink.
Ranin said she “genuinely fell for Lentz and thought he loved her.”
She says she is deeply regretful for the hurt she brought to his Sydney-born wife Laura and their family.
“When I found out he was married, I told him repeatedly ‘go back to your wife, go back to your family,’ but he kept turning up in the lobby of my apartment block with bottles of Clase Azul tequila for us to drink,” she told The News.
“He said the s*x we had was the best he’s ever had in his life and he couldn’t stop being with me.
“I never wanted a married man. I went on other dates to try to forget him and he said he had counselling to break the spell I had on him and be cured but it didn’t work.
“It’s right he got fired, but it’s not fair Laura got s*cked too, I’m told they came as a package to church, if he went she went, she’s just a victim in this, I feel terrible for her and the kids, I wish I had never met him.”
The two embarked on a torrid affair when Lentz chatted her up in Domino Park in Brooklyn, New York, and ending abruptly last week when his wife found a series of text messages on his iphone and work computer link to his iCloud.
“It’s a love story that happened at a time when we were in a weird COVID capacity, we found comfort in each other, he was not on stage and I believe he was craving attention which he found from me,” Ms Karim said.
“I look back now and I think he was going through a midlife crisis.
“He said he felt bad for what he was doing to his wife, that she was an amazing, good woman, that he had never done it before but his marriage wasn’t perfect.
“Do the math, he’s been with Laura since he was 21, it felt like he hadn’t lived life and I was different and exciting to him.
“Carl would come to my apartment three times a week with Tequila in his backpack so people wouldn’t see him with it in the street. He did risky things you wouldn’t expect a pastor to do, and he risked coming to my apartment in daylight, he was reckless.
“I’m not a h**ker, I’m someone who genuinely fell for a guy time who thought he loved her. I still miss him and sometimes wish I could give him a hug.”
Celebrity pastor Lentz, 42, told her he training for a photo shoot that would feature him on cover of Men’s Health magazine and was filming a movie with Virginia Beach celebrities including Pharrell Williams.
Lentz with Justin Bieber and rapper Lil Wayne.
“He would brag about his BMW and said he came from nothing and boast about how he was friends with Bieber and Kim Kardashian, I’d say to him ‘get out of my apartment, who cares, she’s trash?’ I felt he wanted to be a celebrity too,” she said.
The Egyptian and Palestinian actor says Hillsong is “a joke” and welcomed the investigation into the inner operations of the church, where Lentz was lead pastor.
Justin Bieber and wife Hailey have both since unfollowed Carl and Laura on Instagram.
When he was fired Karim asked if she could have his new number as the church would take back his mobile phone and he replied, “no, it’s too dangerous”, she said.
“We did speak briefly and told me ‘I’m free now, but my life is a mess, I’ve lost my job and I’m going to have to rebuild my marriage, I took vows in the eyes of the church and I have to stick to them’.”
“So, what, he’s gonna rebuild his marriage now he’s been found out? “This really hurts me,” she said.
“He told me he would never leave his wife to give me what I want.
“I’m still waiting for Laura to contact me, she hasn’t even though she knows I had an affair with her man. I’d say I’m ‘sorry, life is complicated and sh*t happened but I never intended to hurt you’.”
“If I could erase the five months I had with Carl, I would, he brought nothing to my life, it was a waste of breath. I think he was looking to destroy his life but didn’t know it at the time.”
A church representative said: “Hillsong Church has stated publicly that Pastor Carl Lentz was terminated and we have launched an independent investigation into wider issues at Hillsong East Coast.
“We will not be making further comment until this investigation is complete, and we will not comment on wild speculation. We are learning about these matters as information comes to light and this will all be part of the investigation.”