RELIGION

Matt Pitt, Youth Pastor of 'The Basement,' Jumps Off Cliff While Fleeing Police

08/27/2013 11:26 am ET

Matt Pitt became well known as the charismatic youth pastor of "The Basement," one of America's largest Christian youth ministries, which he founded in 2004 in his parents' basement.

Now he's making headlines for his erratic criminal behavior which include impersonating a police officer twice, and jumping off a 45-foot cliff in a last ditch attempt to evade arrest by the police.

Pitt resisted arrest on August 20 after a bizarre TV interview with Alabama's 13 about the charges. He ran from the cops, jumping over a 45-foot cliff in his escape attempt, before he was taken into custody by the Birmingham police after a short struggle. Though he's been wanted since his second incident of police impersonation in June, he refused to surrender to authorities. The troubled pastor has been the subject of longstanding rumors of drug abuse, and the results of a Wednesday drug test are forthcoming.

His problems began in 2012, when he pleaded guilty in September to a reduced charge of attempting to impersonate a police officer and was sentenced to a year in jail. However, the sentence was suspended and he was told to serve two years on unsupervised probation and pay a $1,000 fine. Authorities are now asking for Pitt's probation to be revoked after this most recent incident, and it's highly likely that he will serve jail time.

Since the arrests, some people associated with The Basement have come forward to express their reservations about Pitt and his problems, alleging that Pitt wanted to be a "Lone Ranger." An unidentified board member said to AL.com, "We saw him going down the wrong way. He pushed everybody away."

Birmingham Evangelist Scott Dawson urged people to remember the concrete good done by The Basement as it helped them to connect with God. "We certainly need to pray for Matt and his family," Dawson noted. "It doesn't change the impact on people's lives. They didn't respond to Matt, they responded to Christ. Christ is the one that can changes lives."

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