Nun Sexting Scandal: Accused Priest Refuses to Cooperate

An American priest has been suspended from his duties as a clergy member for being involved in a sex scandal with a nun. He refuses to cooperate with the church’s investigation on the issue.

The priest, 38-year-old Father Phillip Johnson, has also lawyered up after he was accused, along with 43-year-old Rev. Mother Superior Teresa Agnes Gerlach, fired after the news of the sex scandal broke out.

He would neither confirm or deny his involvement,” Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson told church members in a video meant to address the growing issue.

The superior informed me that the priest, on the advice of his own canonical counsel, refused to participate in the investigation,” Olson added.

While Gerlach admitted that she and Johnson had a long-distance sexting relationship over email and video call, she insisted that she has not broken her chastity vow as a nun and claimed that she was unfairly removed from the diocese she used to preside over in Arlington, Texas.

Now, Gerlach is suing the church for $1 million for alleged defamation and illegal confiscation of her phone and laptop. She also suffered from health problems, which caused her to become wheelchair-bound and need a feeding tube.

In a shocking 40-minute recording played during a court hearing on June 27th, Gerlach admitted that she and Johnson were “sexting.” She also confessed that “he and I were writing often to each other. And we just got very close, and that’s when it happened.

She revealed that she sent emails to Johnson and then indicated that “just twice, on the phone,” they committed an unspecified sexual sin “on video chat.

As for Father Johnson, the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, told the New York Post that “Father Philip Johnson is not currently exercising public ministry … [His] priestly faculties were restricted by Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama as a precautionary measure until more clarity regarding his status can be ascertained.

Bishop Olson also said that Johnson’s superiors shut down the Fort Worth Diocese after they contacted them as part of the investigation regarding the incident.

According to a religious blog, Father Johnson’s miraculous journey to priesthood began when he was still serving as an officer in the United States Navy. After doctors diagnosed him for having a brain tumor in 2008, doctors claimed his condition would claim his life after a year. But Johnson turned to religion, and “miraculously and with the help of so many prayers, he persevered” and has been assigned to the Raleigh Diocese in North Carolina since 2017.

Father Johnson and Mother Superior Gerlach first met in 2020 when the priest visited the Carmelite monastery in Traverse City, Michigan, and requested prayers from the nun’s monastery in Texas.

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