5 years later James Fortune reflects on domestic abuse and taking accountability
By Tabith Jeffries // EEW Magazine // Domestic Abuse
(EEW Magazine) Grammy® Award-nominated gospel singer James Fortune, who was arrested, convicted and jailed for domestic abuse in 2014, is getting reflective about his violent past five years later.
In a sit-down interview with TV One’s “Sister Circle,” the 40-year-old said therapy and counseling helped him “take accountability” and realize “the issue was not anybody else; the issue was me.”
Half-a-decade later, the now-remarried Fortune sees that his pattern of abusiveness toward his ex-wife, gospel singer Cheryl Fortune, is solely to blame for ripping apart his family and sabotaging his once thriving music career—something he initially was not ready to confess.
“I didn’t talk about it for a while, because now I look back [and see] it was good for me not to speak of it, because I think, at that moment it would have been about denying it, or blaming other people, or minimizing it,” said Fortune who also formerly pled guilty to felony injury to a child after scalding his stepson in hot water and leaving him with permanently disfiguring burns over more than 40 percent of his body.
Despite God’s forgiveness and grace, the Houston, Texas native and preacher’s son knows he will never receive total redemption in the eyes of the public. Notwithstanding, he isn’t offering up any excuses for his reprehensible behavior.
“After going through therapy and going through group therapy with other men, and going through individual counseling, it helped me take accountability,” he said, fully owning his mess-ups.
Domestic violence, often called the “silent epidemic,” is experienced by many women married to men professing Christianity. According to a New York Times report, “a 2014 survey of pastors found that most church leaders significantly underestimated the level of abuse in their congregations.” Rarely is it even discussed.
In the case of Mr. Fortune, the ugly incident that took place in the family home of the former chart-topping artist, uncovered the dark secret, and broke the silence. Once the massively shocking drama spilled out online, the “I Trust You” songwriter lost the trust of his once huge audience of worldwide supporters. The scandal rocked the Christian community while sparking numerous conversations about abusive husbands right in the church. At the time, Fortune was also stripped from the airwaves of his then-popular nationally syndicated radio program, “The James Fortune Show.”
“It was my own doing. It wasn’t a mistake. It was a decision,” Fortune said to “Sister Circle” co-hosts Trina Braxton and Lexi Allen. “A mistake is something that’s done by accident, without realizing the consequences. No, abuse in relationships is a decision.”
Years later, Fortune admits that his family continues to deal with the negative aftermath of his poor decision. When asked by co-host Allen, “Has Cheryl forgiven you?” he replied, “I don’t know. All I can do is ask. I’ve asked several times and reached out.”
Though it remains to be seen whether or not he will ever mend fences with his ex, the remorseful artist, who remains in therapy to this day, added, “But we’re doing a great job co-parenting our kids and that’s the most important thing for me.”
These days, he seems to be enjoying better fortune with his new bride, Rhaquele Fortune, whom he wed in 2018.
If you are being abused, safely and confidentially reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline to get the help you need.
See the full interview below: