Woman Sues Pastor Over Loan

San Jose Mercury News/August 20, 1985
By S.L. Wykes

A preacher who once admitted to being "a crook -- and I don't mean a cheap crook," has been sued by a Sunnyvale woman who says he never repaid $30,000 she lent his church.

La Cynthia K. Martin says in the suit that the Rev. Lewis Elmer Frayer of the Redwood Gospel Assembly told her, "If you trust me with your soul, you can trust me with your money."

In her suit, filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court Friday, Martin claims she lent the money to Frayer and his wife, now dead, in various sums before April 1980. On April 1 that year, the Frayers signed a note to repay the $30,000 at 20 percent interest over three years.

In early 1983, the suit says, Martin received a letter from the Redwood Gospel Assembly Church acknowledging receipt of a $30,595 contribution to the church. She says only $595 was supposed to be a gift.

Martin is seeking $250,000 in punitive damages. Martin, her lawyer and Frayer were not available for comment Monday.

The church, which was based in Sunnyvale when Martin was a member, later moved to Fremont. No one answered at the phone number listed for it on Monday.

Frayer, 68, has had other run-ins with church members and has admitted to an unlikely pastoral background. "I was a crook -- and I don't mean a cheap crook," he said in a lengthy interview given in 1981, after several former members of his church criticized him for undue pressure to contribute to the church.

Frayer's father was a longtime minister in San Jose, but Frayer described himself as a "rough character" who didn't find religion until he nearly drowned while swimming drunk off the coast of Mexico.

He denied then that he had ordered members of his congregation to invest in the church. "Our church is better than Social Security," he said then. "You don't have to give any money...My critics say I have a Swiss bank account. I wish I did."

Frayer filed under bankruptcy laws in San Mateo County in 1975, listing 98 creditors and debts of $548,000.

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