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Deputy Coerces Woman into Baptism to Avoid Arrest

When Shandle Riley was stopped outside the home of her ex-mother-in law late at night for a traffic infraction, it’s possible she might’ve silently prayed for deliverance. But surely, she didn’t expect what happened next.

Deputy Daniel Wilkey found marijuana during the traffic stop. But Wilkey also told Riley that God was talking to him. In addition to citing her for possession of a controlled substance, Wilkey told her that she wouldn’t go to jail if she agreed to be baptized. Not by a pastor at a local church, but by Wilkey himself. At his prodding, Riley went inside to get some towels saying, “I guess I’m fixing to get baptized.” They drove to nearby Lake Soddy, where Wilkey baptized Riley, who remained fully clothed as she was submerged in the water. Another deputy, Jacob Goforth, witnessed the event and recorded footage on his phone.

Riley later filed suit against Officers Wilkey and Goforth. During her deposition, Riley testified of the baptism, “it had nothing to do with God ... or being a good person.” Rather, “it had something to do with power and control.”

Back in 2019, a judge dismissed the claims against Goforth, but still allowed the rest of the suit to proceed. Judge McDonough said, “No government interest is furthered by the baptism of a detainee by an on-duty law-enforcement officer.”

Riley died from an accidental drug overdose in April of 2022. However, Riley’s attorney said that her case will still go forward. The attorney said, “Baptism by a police officer in the line of duty, in exchange for leniency in a criminal case is beyond the pale.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

Authority figures who exploit the vulnerable in the name of Christ bring dishonor to the faith.

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