Pastor Darnell Barrett — the creative director of Hillsong’s Montclair, New Jersey, chapter — shared explicit photos on social media before his departure.
Pastor Darnell Barrett of Hillsong Church resigned on Tuesday after sharing explicit photos to at least one of his followers, a woman, on Instagram, something he claims was a mistake and not an attempt to lure the woman.
The married creative director of Hillsong’s Montclair, New Jersey, chapter is the latest pastor from the celebrity-loved mega church to resign amid a sex-related scandal.
In photos posted by Daily Mail, Barrett, 32, shared pictures two days in a row of him shirtless after a workout wearing Nike Pro Compression Tights that exposed him.
Barrett – who previously appeared on Steve Harvey‘s talk show – wrote that “depression and anxiety got the best of me in the last 30 hours” in text written over the pictures he posted to his Close Friends list on Instagram, saying the gym is what’s been helping him get out of bed, the photos obtained by Daily Mail show.
One unnamed woman – who told the Daily Mail she was a former volunteer at Hillsong – said to the outlet that the father of two had sent her similar photos, before he shared those on his Instagram Stories, claiming it was “an accident.” Barrett told the outlet that sending her those photos was “an honest mistake.”
“Hey! I think I might’ve added you to my close friends list by accident. I’m so sorry. Trying to figure out how the hell to edit it. It’s some real raw s— I send to my friends man. Lol,” Barrett messaged her in screenshots obtained by the Daily Mail.
The woman replied, “Lol rude! I’m NOT a close friend is what you’re saying. Haha that’s alright.”
“Seriously, sorry about that. I guess,” the pastor followed up with, before the volunteer blocked him.
The woman later unblocked Barrett and told him, “For you to go out of your way to make it seem like you ‘accidentally’ added me to your close friends… and then, went out of your way to message me about it KNOWING that would make me go look is bulls—,” messages obtained by Daily Mail show. “Obviously, what you wanted me to see were the shirtless photos and the outline of your d—, let’s not play and act like that wasn’t the point. Your messages to bait me into seeing your ‘raw s—’ are obvious.'”
She also accused him of employing a ” ‘fishing’ scheme” to “see if I will bite.”
“I’m sorry?” Barrett replied, in the messages Daily Mail shared, before she blocked him once more.
Barrett stepped down at Hillsong amid the photo scandal.
Hillsong Church did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Barrett told the Daily Mail outside his New Jersey home that he and his wife “thought it was best for me to move on” amid the social media behavior and that “there was infidelity in my marriage that we’re working through.”
“I was not at all trying to lure her. I get that she, within the context of what’s happening with Hillsong, that she would draw those conclusions,” he told the outlet, presumably referring to Pastor Carl Lentz who was fired in November from Hillsong due to what the church described as past “moral failures.”
Barrett added, ‘This was something that was just an honest mistake and I informed my wife as soon as it happened.”
The pastor’s stepping down comes months after Lentz admitted to being unfaithful to his wife, writing on Instagram that “this failure is on me, and me alone.”
“Today Hillsong Church East Coast advised our congregation that we have terminated the employment of Pastor Carl Lentz,” Houston said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE at the time. “This action was not taken lightly and was done in the best interests of everyone, including Pastor Carl.”
Houston added that Lentz’s firing comes after “ongoing discussions in relation to leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures.”