Ex-Gay Watch’s investigation into Pastor Matthew C. Manning has failed to find evidence for his miraculous healing claims. But more disturbingly, it has revealed a history of accusations, charges and at least one plea of no contest for sexual offenses.

Matthew C. Manning is the founder and president of Lighthouse World Evangelism Inc (LHWE) in Santa Rosa, California.  An earlier version of his website describes him this way:

Matthew was delivered from homosexuality in 1989 and miraculously healed from HIV/AIDS in 1994. Matthew’s experience not only enables him to minister effectively to those seeking deliverance from homosexuality, but to all people seeking to know Jesus Christ in a deeper way.


Ex-Gay Watch reported briefly on Manning in 2003 when Mike Airhart mentioned the claims of healing from AIDS/HIV and his difficulty in obtaining any official documentation to verify those claims.  Some months later, a comment was left on both posts by the “Legal Department of LightHouse World Evangelism Inc” protesting Airhart’s observations, but providing no new facts.

Since that time, LHWE has released a long promised DVD,  my eyes see You, which claims to depict the story of Manning’s miraculous deliverance and healing, including a dramatic attempt on his life by a man Manning says he later prayed with in a prison ministry (and who has supposedly since died of AIDS related infections).  A preview of the DVD is available, while a “free” copy can be obtained for a $30 donation.

Matthew C. Manning and Exodus President Alan Chambers in 2007

Manning has also appeared on numerous Christian broadcasts, including at least five episodes of The Joni Show, at various times alongside Exodus President Alan Chambers, former ex-gay spokesman John Paulk, and Focus on the Family ex-gay speaker Mike Haley.  More than any other factor, however, an early CBN 700 Club broadcast (video) featuring Manning’s story seems to have made him known to a larger audience.  Nearly every person with whom we talked acknowledged that they discovered Manning from that single show.  It was originally broadcast on June 25, 2002, and then offered by CBN for a donation of $20.

We made a dedicated search to confirm the key elements of Manning’s story.  To date we have found nothing that would accomplish this.  Certainly Manning must realize that incredible claims of this type require equally incredible proof — nothing short of a complete and open medical study would seem warranted.  We are open to any new facts or leads, and even sent an email to manning days before this post to ask if he had anything to add to the discussion. He has not replied but we have other requests outstanding.

During our search, we did find some public documents concerning Manning, and we spoke with some people who have had contact with him.  The picture that has emerged from these findings convinced us that reporting to our readers was the only responsible action left.  This decision came after much counsel and reflection, and we believe everything that follows is well supported by the public record.

Charges in 1998

On February 24, 1998, charges were filed with the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles at the San Fernando Courthouse, accusing Manning of one count of violating CA Penal Code 647(a),

Who solicits anyone to engage in or who engages in lewd or dissolute conduct in any public place or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view.

and one count of violating CA Penal Code 602(P).

Entering upon any lands declared closed to entry as provided in Section 4256 of the Public Resources Code, if the closed areas shall have been posted with notices declaring the closure, at intervals not greater than one mile along the exterior boundaries or along roads and trails passing through the lands.

We will learn from the summary of a future jury trial (next) that there was an incident in 1998 involving Manning and an officer Martinez at Hansen Dam.  Keeping in mind the second count, it may be worth noting that Hansen Dam has a public park and a series of walking trails.  These charges are listed as being “dismissed or not prosecuted.”

Charges in 2000

On August 30, 2000, a complaint was filed with the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, accusing Manning of one count of violating CA Penal Code 647(a).

Who solicits anyone to engage in or who engages in lewd or dissolute conduct in any public place or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view.

An arrest warrant on that charge was issued a day later through the North Hollywood area LAPD.  It isn’t clear what happened in between, but on March 9, 2001, private attorney Jeffrey Cohen pleaded “not guilty” on Manning’s behalf as he was not present.  The record notes that a bench warrant was recalled at that time, but we do not know why it was issued, or if it was the original warrant.  The record is abbreviated, not a full transcript.  Also unknown at this time is why the incident for which Manning is charged is listed as occurring almost three months prior (June 6, 2000).

Manning chose trial by jury and eventually spent about a week in those proceedings.   During that time there were references to a prior incident in 1998 with an officer Martinez at Hansen Dam (discussed above).   It is important to note that Manning’s counsel apparently wanted to entertain testimony from a defense witness,  Jhayne Eddy, to discredit Martinez.  The judge found this line of testimony essentially without merit, but also forbid the people from cross examining on the earlier incident.  Jhayne Eddy appears to be another attorney in that area and we can speculate that he was the attorney representing Manning in the 1998 incident, though we don’t yet have those records to be sure.

The trial was short but lively, with the people at one point asking the judge to rule on possible charges of jury tampering by Manning, both inside and outside the courtroom.  We don’t have an account of what was said or done to prompt this, but the judge decided that the jury had not been tainted and carried on with the trial.  In the end, the jury acquitted Manning on the single count of the indictment, and that was that.

Charges in 2005

On September 2, 2005, a complaint was filed with the Superior Court of California, County of Sonoma, accusing Manning of one count of violating CA Penal Code 243.4(e)(1).

Any person who touches an intimate part of another person, if the touching is against the will of the person touched, and is for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of misdemeanor sexual battery, punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

The complainant is listed as “John Doe” but we have since determined his identity.  He was approx 22 years old at the time, and still lives in the area.  We have contacted him and may provide his personal account at a later date if he allows it.  He appears understandably reticent concerning such a personal matter.  We should note that he identifies as straight.

No jury trial this time.  On November 30, 2005, again represented by Jeffrey Cohen, Manning pleaded “No Contest” to a single count of violating CA Penal Code 647(a), a lesser count and the same he was charged with in 2000.  He also escaped a listing on the sexual offender registry.  The record does not specify whether or not adjudication was withheld, but such plea agreements are not uncommon for this type of offense because the victim is often reluctant to make the issue public.  We understand that, in California, if one adheres to the conditions of such an agreement, adjudication is often withheld.  However, it is not clear if that is the case with this type of crime.

Some of the other stipulations, one in particular, may provide a clue as to the nature of the incident.  Manning was ordered to stay away from the victim for one year, but he was also ordered to stay away from one of the the 24 Hour Fitness locations in Santa Rosa for the same length of time.  It seems reasonable to conclude that the “lewd act” occurred there, though we can’t yet state this as fact.

More information from our research will be presented in a separate post in the next couple of days.  Until then, we would like to assure anyone who might have had their own experience with Manning that they may contact us safe in the knowledge that their confidentiality will be respected.  You  may contact this writer at david@exgaywatch.com with any pertinent information.

Supporting Documents

Charges 1998

Trial summary 2001

Sworn complaint 2005

Plea and final disposition 2005

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