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Gospel singer James Fortune pleads guilty to striking his wife

Gospel singer James Fortune performs a song he dedicated to Michael Jackson and his family at the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards in Beverly Hills June 26, 2009. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Fred Prouser


(RNS) Grammy-nominated gospel singer James Fortune has pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife with a vanity stool.

The incident follows another episode of family violence in 2002, in which Fortune’s 4-year-old son suffered burns over 40 percent of his body. At the time, the gospel singer was sentenced to six years of probation for what he said was an attempt to discipline the child by pouring hot water over him.

Fortune, 37, who used to host “The James Fortune Show” on gospel radio stations across the country, accepted a plea deal Tuesday (March 8) to a third-degree felony charge of assault, reported KTRK-13, an ABC affiliate in Houston.

According to investigators, Fortune threw his wife against a wall, struck her with a wooden vanity stool and kicked her one evening in October 2014 in their Stafford, Texas, home.

A district judge sentenced him to five years of probation and five days in jail. He has been ordered to stay away from his wife, complete a “batterer’s intervention program” and perform 175 hours of community service.

His wife wrote a victim impact statement that was read in court by a prosecutor.

“I hope in all of this you get help. Serious help,” she wrote. “Although this probation might be like a slap on the wrist, I hope you look at it as a moment to better yourself and change something within you for your future.”

Fortune made no comment as he left court, but his mother told KTRK he was not guilty, without elaborating on her claim.

Fortune recorded such contemporary gospel songs as “Live Through It” and “I Believe” with the vocal ensemble FIYA (which stands for Free in Yahweh’s Abundance).

(Adelle M. Banks is production editor and a national reporter for RNS)

About the author

Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks, production editor and a national reporter, joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.


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  • He poured hot water over his son to discipline him?
    How did he get off with 5-days in jail with his second offense?

  • Being a gospel singer surely don’t make him a person who believe in what he sell. What type of person would do that to their child in the name of discipline? A Demon a person who is selling the wrong message. One day he will meet his conqueror and no gospel will help him.

  • James fortune deserves forgiveness too, I know it seems wrong, but the god I serves is a forgiving God!

  • He poured boiling water over his child to discipline him… This raises some serious questions from a Social Service perspective. What behavior would warrant such an inhuman punishment? Why was the child misbehaving? What has the child witnessed from his adult parents? Who is this man, James Fortune?

  • Forgiveness should always be afforded to anyone who is sincere. However, to whom much is given much is required. Bro Fortune has a track record for domestic abuse. In addition to prayer, an intense therapy and some domestic violence program would suit this brother

  • Wow, this guy is crazy. Can’t believe I ever listened to his music while he was mistreating his wife and child.