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“That’s generational property”: Bahamian Family Alleges $30 Million Fraud Involving 3ABN

3ABN Logo, David Lawrence Adderley, No Trespassing Sign


Reclining in his Miami home, 85-year-old David Lawrence Adderley faced the television screen through which he has watched countless Three Angels Broadcasting Network (3ABN) programs over the years. But on this particular Sunday in early September of 2023, the lifelong Seventh-day Adventist expressed regret while reflecting on a real estate transaction with 3ABN. According to Adderley and his family, what started as an act of faith, philanthropy, and retirement support more than a decade ago has led to legal fights over land in The Bahamas that had belonged to four generations of Adderleys and is now controlled by 3ABN’s co-founder Danny Shelton.

Current photo of David Lawrence Adderley
David Lawrence Adderley with his daughter, Krystal Adderley.

Located in West Frankfort (pop. 7,176), Illinois, 3ABN was founded in 1984 by Shelton and his ex-wife Linda, who no longer works for the organization. It is an independent nonprofit media network that broadcasts Adventist-themed programming around the world. “The mission of 3ABN is to proclaim the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ and herald His soon return,” according to information printed on the organization’s 990 forms submitted to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The organization relies on tens of millions of dollars from its planned giving and trust services which it advertises often during its broadcasts and promotes in Seventh-day Adventist churches.

3ABN Financial Trends
Chart of 3ABN financial trends.

Patrimony Meets a Controversial Legal Tactic

3ABN gained possession of the undeveloped land in 2011 through an irrevocable charitable trust signed by David Adderley. The property in dispute is located on Long Island, considered the most scenic of the 30 inhabited cays that compose the Bahamian archipelago. It is near Dean’s Blue Hole, the world’s second-deepest marine sinkhole, which attracts diving enthusiasts from around the globe. Adderley has unsuccessfully tried to regain control of 300 acres allegedly worth around $30 million dollars. 

According to Christine Adderley Smith, David Adderley’s second cousin who lives in Nassau, Bahamas, the property originally belonged to the family patriarch, Lawrence Wellington Adderley, the grandson of a former slave and father of 12 children. He purchased parts of the property over his lifetime and left all of the land to his children and grandchildren, she said. Her grandfather, Edward, was one of his sons, as was David Adderley’s father. “My granddaddy always said it was generational property,” Smith states. “It was where the males back in the day would get married, and their dads would give them property to build on the farm because that's what most of the island folks did.” They were subsistence farmers on the land. She adds, “that's how they survived.”

Video of the Adderley family tree.

Smith and other relatives living in The Bahamas said they believe 3ABN misled David Adderley into signing the irrevocable charitable trust. They knew nothing about it until 3ABN started blocking them from accessing the land. Initially they were confused about 3ABN’s and Shelton’s relationship to the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, believing the network was part of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, but learned otherwise through research on the internet. 3ABN has already constructed a road on the site and erected no-trespassing signs. And, the family alleges that Shelton, now a corporate consultant for 3ABN, has used local law enforcement to prohibit them from entering land they believe is theirs. 

An August 2023 Quieting Titles petition filed by 3ABN in the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas gave individuals with legal right to the property or an adverse claim 30 days to file their claims. Smith and other family members said they recently retained an attorney and filed an adverse claim challenging 3ABN’s quieting title petition.

M. Gregory Simpson, a lawyer at the firm Meagher + Geer representing 3ABN, denied that 3ABN misled David Adderley into signing papers for the irrevocable trust, as well as allegations regarding mistreatment of the family. “When David conveyed his Long Island property to 3ABN, he believed he was its sole owner,” Simpson wrote in the letter to Spectrum. "After a thorough survey and expert research into old land records, 3ABN concluded that David was correct: nobody else appeared to have a claim of ownership on the land.” Simpson added, “but, as a precaution, 3ABN decided that before it would proceed, it would make sure that no unknown person had a claim of ownership to the land." Explaining the recent quieting title action, Simpson stated that it was done according to the Quieting Titles Act of 1959, a court process “to see if anybody comes to court with a competing claim of ownership to the land.” He continued, “3ABN did not intend to make anybody upset or alarmed. This is simply the process set up by Bahamian law for 3ABN to get clear title to property.”

The Quieting Titles Act of 1959 has become a controversial issue in The Bahamas. On April 3, 2023, Sir Franklyn Wilson, a prominent businessman in the construction industry, described the law as “a license to thief” during a University of The Bahamas Business Week seminar. The Tribune, a newspaper published in The Bahamas since 1903, reports that Wilson urged Bahamian leaders to create a better system to protect private property so “it’s more difficult for people to steal it.” The article noted that these concerns are not new, stating that the newspaper “has reported on several Quieting Titles Act abuses in recent years, detailing how the law has been used as a fraudulent tool to commit real estate theft.” On Sept. 11, 2023, The Tribune published a letter to the editor titled “Madness has to stop,” which addresses the 3ABN controversy and how the law is used by outside organizations to disenfranchise families with incomplete land records. “I was extremely upset to see a recent notice in the newspapers pertaining to the Quieting of hundreds of acres of land on one of our Family Islands by a company (not an individual) in the United States!” Pam Burbside wrote to the editor. “What is going on in this country when laws are passed to disenfranchise law-abiding Bahamians of their patrimony?” She added, “The Quieting Titles Act in itself is questionable if it allows any Tom, Dick, or Harry to lay claim to our valuable land! It is like we have all slid down the Rabbit Hole into Wonderland where everything is topsy-turvy and wrong is right and right is wrong!”

“An Unsolicited Call”

A retired U. S. Army colonel with dual citizenship in The Bahamas, David Adderley served for nearly 30 years as an airborne ranger, according to family members and court documents. In 1987, he was honorably discharged due to an incident that eventually deteriorated his vision.

David Lawrence Adderley Military Photo
Photo of David Adderley in his U.S. Army dress uniform. 

“Ever since I was a child my father has struggled with his vision. I remember him using a magnifying glass at times while reading things, and he was supposed to avoid driving at night,” stated his daughter, Krystal Adderley. She added, “Not only did he have glaucoma, but he also had an eye injury from jumping out of planes when he served in the military. He served in Vietnam as well, and was exposed to Agent Orange.”

Adderley’s disability factored prominently in the legal wrangling with 3ABN. According to his account of the story in documents obtained by Spectrum, he was legally blind by the time he signed the irrevocable trust and did not realize what he was signing. Furthermore, rather than paying for an attorney to represent his interests, Adderley and family members allege he relied on Roy G. Hunt, Jr., 3ABN’s then-director of Planned Giving and Trust Services, as well as attorneys representing the network to guide the process. “Adderley had a heightened level of trust in Hunt and 3ABN,” a 2019 lawsuit filed by Adderley in the U. S. District Court of the Southern District of Florida stated. “He trusted them to be truthful and moral in character because he thought Hunt and 3ABN were working in conjunction with the beliefs, doctrines and mission of his Church.”

Adderley recanted his allegations in May of 2020 as part of a settlement with 3ABN. However, he has subsequently repeated what he recanted as recently as September 27 in a phone interview with Spectrum, during which he again stated that he did not intend to donate the entire property to 3ABN or put any of it in an irrevocable trust.

Simpson stated that the contact with 3ABN began when Adderley made “an unsolicited call” to 3ABN on July 20, 2011, “explaining that he owned land on Long Island in The Bahamas, which he wanted to donate to 3ABN in a way that would allow him to achieve both tax benefits and income.” 3ABN describes a Charitable Remainder Unitrustas an option for avoiding capital gains taxes on highly appreciated property.” The benefits are “increased income from low-yielding assets; reduction or elimination of income taxes, estate taxes, gift taxes, and the creation of a source of income for children, parents, and/or other loved ones.” Whatever tool a giver chooses, “our supporters have total confidence that their gifts are being used to further the cause of God through this ministry.” In interviews with Spectrum, Adderley’s family members said he learned about 3ABN’s planned giving program when network representatives promoted philanthropic financial tools at a church in Miami. 

According to Simpson, “during the course of these initial discussions, Mr. Adderley was advised by 3ABN attorneys to seek his own independent counsel.” Adderley alleged that he simply believed he was donating one to two acres of the land to fellow Adventists for the purpose of constructing a church sanctuary. He had inherited the land from his father who converted to Adventism and had helped build a Seventh-day Adventist church in Homestead, Florida. In reaching out to 3ABN, Adderley had hoped to honor his late father’s wish to build a church sanctuary on the family’s land, he stated recently and in legal documents. Adderley said he intended to achieve that goal before he died and planned to pass on an inheritance to his two daughters through the remainder of the property. In addition to Krystal Adderley, he has a 17-year-old daughter. His immediate family also consists of his wife, Suely, a caretaker whom he married six years ago.

However, Adderley eventually lost possession of the land due to a flurry of documents that he signed over a decade, inadvertently relinquishing more and more control of the property to 3ABN. Documents obtained by Spectrum paint the picture of a complicated legal web that eventually led to the settlement, the recanting of Adderley’s allegations, and the dissolution of the trust. According to information provided by 3ABN’s attorney, the network now claims to have full ownership of the property.

“It Was So Confusing”

On Aug. 22, 2011, Adderley signed the Charitable Remainder Unitrust, known as a CRUT, as both grantor and trustee, according to the document obtained by Spectrum. It reads, “if for any reason David Lawrence Adderley is unable or unwilling to serve as Trustee, then Three Angels Broadcasting Network, Inc., of West Frankfort, Illinois, shall serve as successor trustee.”

“The terms of the CRUT establish that it was to be funded with Mr. Adderley’s Long Island, Bahamas, real estate, which had to be marketed and sold for the trust to have any money with which to make any payments,” Simpson explained. “Mr. Adderley was then to receive income from the CRUT during his lifetime, and upon his death, 3ABN would receive the remainder.” However, both the Adderley family and 3ABN agree that Adderley has never received income from the CRUT. Shortly after the papers were signed 3ABN hired the Lewis & Longley firm in The Bahamas to begin preparing the property for sale. According to Simpson, since then 3ABN has made several unsuccessful attempts to sell the property. Though the Adderleys provided documents placing the annual income initially promised to Adderley at $1.5 million, Simpson said there was no set amount. “Mr. Adderley was never told that he would receive $1.5 million annually,” he wrote. However, according to the CRUT agreement, obtained by Spectrum, the document stated: “The Unitrust Percentage, which shall be used to determine the Unitrust amount for purposes of this agreement shall be Five percent (5.00%).” That would put the amount at $1.6 million for a property worth $32 million.

Simpson also disputed the family’s assertion that Adderley intended to donate only a portion of his inheritance for the construction of a church sanctuary, stating: “The claim that Mr. Adderley intended to donate 1-2 acres to 3ABN for use as a church, on an island with a population of just 3,000 residents, which already had not one but two Seventh Day Adventist churches, was probably not Mr. Adderley’s idea” (sic). The attorney added, “he knew that 3ABN did not build and operate churches, and he knew that Long Island did not need another one. He believed he was donating hundreds of acres of property, or its value, to 3ABN through a charitable trust.”

According to Simpson, Adderley disavowed the allegation that he intended to donate only a few acres to build a church sanctuary on two occasions. “He first disavowed it during his sworn deposition, when he was read the allegations from his 2018 affidavit and was asked, ‘Is that a true statement?’ He responded, ‘I don’t think so.’ Adderley disavowed it a second time in a 2020 affidavit and was represented by counsel on both occasions,” Simpson stated. Regarding Adderley’s disability, he added, “The CRUT was read to Mr. Adderley in its entirety. Mr. Adderley was vision-impaired, but the extent of his impairment was never precisely determined. He had a device with which he could read documents in his home.” In addition, Simpson stated, “Mr. Adderley knew what his vision limitations were, and was fully capable of protesting his interests by having others read to him what he could not read himself.”

Along with the irrevocable trust, Adderley also has in his possession a document for a revocable trust, which the family said was drafted by 3ABN. However, the “Revocable Declaration of Trust,” obtained by Spectrum, was never signed. Asked about that document, Simpson stated, “Mr. Adderley’s revocable trust application is not related to the property on Long Island. We will not discuss Mr. Adderley’s estate planning activities.”

On January 24, 2012, Adderley executed three Indentures of Conveyance (deeds) to the irrevocable trust in the presence of a notary at The Bahamas Consulate General in Miami, according to Simpson. That same day, he also signed a “Notice of Resignation of Trustee” before two witnesses. James Gilley, then-president of 3ABN, became the land’s trustee. When Gilley (now deceased) retired in 2015, Shelton took control.

According to Simpson, 3ABN’s auditing firm sent a letter to Adderley on May 7, 2013, requesting that he confirm that he donated the property to 3ABN. “At his home in Florida, with nobody from 3ABN present, Mr. Adderley signed his name to the letter, affirming that he agreed with the following statement: “According to our records you have placed real estate with an appraised value of $[redacted] into a Charitable Remainder Unitrust Agreement. According to this Unitrust agreement, any amount distributed for charitable purposes will be as follows: 100% to Three Angels Broadcasting Network, Inc. of West Frankfort, Illinois for unrestricted purposes.”

Asked why he resigned as trustee, the octogenarian stated, “I don't remember the details. But basically, it was just so confusing for me.” David Adderley added that he found the CRUT too complicated, did not understand what it all meant, and felt overwhelmed by all of the legal maneuvers of 3ABN and its attorneys. Tired of dealing with 3ABN, he stated, “I just got out of it.”

Two years after that transaction, 3ABN then tried to convince David Adderley to put his Miami residence in a trust, but he refused. Spectrum obtained a copy of the letter with the signature of Roy Hunt, Jr., the network’s then-director of Planned Giving & Trust Services. After informing David Adderley that documents related to his property trust and will were enclosed, Hunt wrote:

I also need for you to send a copy of your deed on the house you own and are placing in this Trust. This is the house you are living in at the present time. Our attorney will prepare this to be placed into your trust. You will have access to this deed at any and all times and the trust is totally yours, not 3ABN holding anything.

As for the land in the Bahamas, Adderley said he discovered that he no longer had control of the property when he considered selling it. Though born and raised in Miami, he always had a strong connection to The Bahamas through his father, a native of the Caribbean country. In the early 2000s, Adderley purchased a plant to make construction blocks on Long Island. He invested in equipment and began clearing the land for the possibility of a resort or some other kind of development. “At that same time, I lost my vision, and I couldn’t see,” he said. “And, that’s when I didn’t go back to Long Island.”

Adderley said he tried to revoke the conditions of the irrevocable trust when he discovered that he no longer had possession of the land. On March 23, 2018, he filed the affidavit with the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in conjunction with the 2019 lawsuit filed in Miami. In both documents, he accused 3ABN of misleading him in the real estate transaction.

However, according to Simpson, “Most of Mr. Adderley’s claims were dismissed with prejudice by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in an order issued on December 26, 2019, and the entire lawsuit was dismissed by stipulation of the parties, following a settlement, on April 14, 2020.”

Adderley continued to sign documents. “In accordance with the terms of the settlement, I hereby withdraw and disavow the Adderley Affidavit and all of its allegations of wrongful conduct by any other person or entity,” reads an affidavit he signed under oath on May 7, 2020, recanting all of the allegations against the network. “Based on the information I learned after I executed the Adderley Affidavit, I no longer believe that the individuals and entities identified in the Adderley affidavit, including without limitation representatives of Three Angels Broadcasting Network, Inc. (''Network”) and specifically Roy Hunt, Jr., engaged in improper or dishonest conduct of any kind in their dealings with me.”

Simpson would not disclose the conditions of the settlement. However, Krystal Adderley, who now has power of attorney over her father’s affairs, said it amounted to less than 10 percent of what the property in The Bahamas is worth. She said a significant portion of the money went to attorney fees. Though the settlement included a non-disclosure agreement prohibiting Adderley or any of his family members from disclosing the information, she said her father signed the documents without her knowledge, and she doesn’t believe she is legally bound by the terms of the agreement. 

When provided details about David Adderley’s story, Ted Ramirez, a practicing attorney with 45 years of experience in nonprofit governance, who has served the Seventh-day Adventist Church on boards at all levels of the denomination, stated: “3ABN’s reasoning and court tactics may be legal, but the facts reported leave one to wonder at the ethics of a gospel ministry engaging in such complex business with a blind octogenarian who struggles with memory. One hopes that Adventists will be able to distance our name from this.”

“That’s Generational Property”

According to Simpson, on Aug. 31, 2012, the Investment Board in The Bahamas issued permits under the International Persons Landholding Act of 1993, allowing 3ABN to take ownership of the property subsequent to Mr. Adderley’s death. That act, according to information on The Bahamas Real Estate Association website, “encourages foreigners or companies owned by them to purchase a second home in The Bahamas.” It goes on to state that, “if a foreigner acquires a single-family dwelling or vacant land to be used in the construction of such a dwelling then he no longer need obtain a permit from the Government (specifically the Investments Board) prior to the purchase.” This was roundly praised by attorneys and real estate agents, as it made it much easier for foreign persons to acquire property in The Bahamas.

However, some Adventists interviewed for this story questioned the tactics 3ABN has used in the Caribbean country, considering its colonial and slave history.  As members of a global church with the vast majority of its members on the continent of Africa, the Caribbean islands, and Latin America, they said Adventist leaders—whether working directly for the church or as independent ministries—should exhibit cultural sensitivity and Christian love and grace. Carmela Monk-Crawford, a journalist and licensed attorney who focuses on social justice issues, said the racial and cultural aspects of the case are hard to ignore. “That is the historical context, and the cultural backdrop against which many will evaluate this huge transfer of black family land to [a Christian ministry], the face of which, at least in this case, is white,” she said. “Once it’s gone, it’s gone. That’s this family’s inheritance, economic independence, nest egg, generational wealth, and let’s face it, power. Everyone involved should take a long, hard look at these implications.”

A Miami-based real estate agent, Krystal Adderley, believes the conveyances that were transferred to the CRUT are flawed. She referred specifically to one that included a rectangular tract of land that connects to the biggest portion of the property. “When you read the conveyance, and you look at these properties, some of what's in the conveyance describing the property doesn't even match what's on file,” she said. “I have proof that one conveyance of one portion of this rectangular tract does not belong to my father. I don't know how it got attached to this conveyance. But it's clearly on record in The Bahamas that it actually belongs to a William Adderley.” 

In addition, Krystal shared a copy of a signed document in which her father stated that he could not find an original deed to the land. In the affidavit, he swore that since receipt of the deed, the document seemed to be misplaced “and/or lost and notwithstanding exhaustive searches amongst all of my papers, effect and otherwise, I have not as of the date of these present been able to locate the original of the said documents.” Krystal said she was stunned when she discovered that her father had signed the document. “They knew that some of the information [in the Indentures of Conveyance] could be incorrect, and they had him sign that document to try to move forward anyway,” she said, referring to the network’s representatives. “And I feel like that's wrong because my father couldn't see to confirm or deny. How do you have a man sign something along those lines when he can't see?”

“Oh, yes, they took advantage of my father,” she said, “because how is it that you're sitting on 300 acres of land for only $3 million [from the settlement]? Anybody in their right mind knows that's not right. It shouldn't be that way. And if they're Christian, they should want to pay my father what that property was actually worth.”

Adderley relatives in the United States and The Bahamas have been uniting to keep the property in their family. Krystal said, “I am not even worried about money.” Asked what her response would be if it turned out other relatives owned some of the property, she said: “Oh, my reaction would be, wonderful! Then that would make everything that 3ABN did null and void.” She said, “what they have done is wrong.” And she’s told several family members, “I don’t care what happens in the end as long as my family is back on that land and 3ABN is gone.” 

Krystal stated, “that’s generational property."

"I recognize as somebody in America that a lot of African American people don’t have a lot of things like this so it brings me joy and pride to know that I had a great-grandfather who did something for the betterment of his family," she said.

On plans for the 300 acres, Simpson explained that 3ABN had already constructed a road over “an existing but unusable road to facilitate marketing and/or development of the property.” He added that it does not encroach on neighboring properties. “3ABN plans to establish clear title to the property it acquired from Mr. Adderley through the Bahamian quieting title process," Simpson stated. “It is hoped that the sale proceeds realized from this property will help 3ABN spread its message of truth, hope and inspiration.”

Heavy machinery equipment
3ABN heavy machinery on the disputed land.

“No Trespassing” 

However, “truth, hope and inspiration” are a far cry from what Adderleys in The Bahamas said they are experiencing now that 3ABN is on Long Island. Christine Adderley Smith, said she did not know the broadcasting network had possession of the property until January, when friends contacted her about a dispute between her brother, Ambrose Adderley, and 3ABN representatives. 

Smith said most family members left the island for Nassau and the United States years ago. Ambrose, now 52, was the only one still living on the property, raising animals and growing produce as his forefathers had done before him. When relatives came to town, Ambrose was the one who took them around and made them feel like they were still connected to the island. 

Krystal Adderley said she remembers visiting Long Island with her father in the 1990s when Hurricane Andrew hit Miami. Ambrose was the relative with the crooked straw hat who showed them a good time. He lived on the property with his animals and seemed content with the laid-back island life.  

However, according to the family, Ambrose went to Nassau for medical treatment due to a leg injury in September of 2022. When he returned from the hospital in November of that year, he found a sign in front of the property which read: “Private Property. No Trespassing. Violators Will Be Prosecuted.”

“This white guy came up to me—Danny Shelton—to say that he bought the land from my cousin, Dave Adderley, which is a lie,” Ambrose said in a phone interview from The Bahamas, “And then, he said that what he's gonna do is build a retreat and a home to help poor people.”

Ambrose said he became angry and tried to burn down the sign. He said Shelton then had him arrested, and Warren Rodgers, whom he described as the then-chief of police on Long Island, had him locked up for two days until a cousin paid the $500 bail. Ambrose has since accused Rodgers of killing some of the animals on the property and destroying his fruit and vegetables, an allegation that sparked a backlash against Rodgers among some Bahamians on social media.

“They do me bad; they destroy my farm them, they destroy some of my animals,” Ambrose said. “And, they don't even want me to go in my own yard where I grew up all my life, my grandfather’s yard.” 

Burnt No Trespassing Sign
The "No-Trespassing" Sign Burned by Ambrose Adderley.

On Sept. 12, Lincoln Bain, a political activist in The Bahamas, posted a live video on Facebook, urging Bahamians in Long Island to fight against 3ABN’s possession of the land. “3ABN, Danny Shelton, or whoever don’t own the property yet,” he said. “Long Islanders go and kick that sign down now. Pull that up, uproot that. Y’all stand up. What kind of nonsense is this?”

“They in the papers trying to get the land, and they’re putting up signs,” Bain continued. “And, the police is assisting them? And local officials assisting them? Against Bahamaians? Boy, we need a new Bahamas bad.”

“Long Islanders, y’all imagine that that sign is an illegal immigrant, and y’all know what to do with that sign,” he said. “Put that on the boat, and send it Illinois.”

Rodgers, who told Spectrum he retired from the police this year, is now a subcontractor for Shelton. The former 3ABN president stepped down for a second time in 2019 amid a bitter dispute over $1 to 2 million with 3ABN Kids Time host Brenda Walsh. Along with his fourth wife, Yvonne, Shelton is now a permanent resident of The Bahamas according to a recent media report. The couple lives on Turtle Cove, not far from the Adderley property, according to Rodgers and other residents. 

Philip Davis thanks Danny and Yvonne Shelton for their donation to the island
Source: Bahamas Chronicle. The prime minister of The Bahamas thanks Danny and Yvonne Shelton, permanent residents on Long Island, for a donation.

Rodgers has also been associated with the Sheltons as an elder at a local Seventh-day Adventist Church, he confirmed on Wednesday. He said 3ABN representatives such as Roy Hunt, Jr., and James Gilley began showing up at the church around 2011–2012.

“When I found out they were on the island, I asked if they could do a sermon for the church, which they did,” Rodgers said. “Normally, when Danny and Yvonne come down, we will ask them to pray on our prayer line. We ask them to sing and do other things.”

Rodgers said that Ambrose and other Adderley relatives have been members of the congregation over the years. David Adderley attended the church whenever he visited the island, and Rodgers recalls visiting his home on the property in 2001 and 2002 when he spent some time on the island. He said Adderley was the first one to construct a road on the property, and he helped him with the project.

“He had been in the Army for so long, and when he retired as a veteran, he came back home,” Rodgers recalled. “I think he was trying to do some business on his property, and that’s when I got to know him.”

Once Adderley left the island, Rodgers said, he continued patrolling the property in his absence to make sure no one was stealing parts of his equipment. In his subcontracting work for 3ABN, he plays a similar role, sometimes preventing people from coming onto the property. From the main road to the ocean, he said, he posted about 30 no-trespassing signs on behalf of 3ABN—the one Ambrose destroyed cost about $700. Rodger said he also set up chain link barriers at the various entrances to prevent access.

“If you own your property and house, would you allow anybody with free will just to come onto your house or property? I don’t think so,” he said. “It’s private property, and it belongs to 3ABN.”

As a result, Rodgers now finds himself caught up in the controversy between the Adderleys and 3ABN. Christine Adderley Smith said she returned to the island in January to file a complaint against Rodgers for allegedly destroying her brother’s farm and killing some of the animals. 

“They refused to accept the report because he was a senior ranking officer,” she said. “So the only way for me to deal with that was to take that up with the Corruption and Complaints Unit on the Island of New Providence.”

Rodgers denied all of the allegations. He said he was the officer in charge of Long Island at some point but not at the time of Ambrose’s sign-burning incident.

Following that occurrence, Rodgers said, Ambrose was arrested another time for breaking into a house and stealing a shotgun. He said both cases are currently being adjudicated, and he had nothing to do with the case involving Ambrose and the sign. Ambrose, he said, has a drinking problem and a history of encounters with law enforcement. 

Rodgers also disputed the family’s claim that Ambrose lived on the property. He said he—Rodgers—has been living on the island for 20 years and never saw Ambrose living there. He provided photos of the dilapidated house where the family said Ambrose lived, which Rodgers considers uninhabitable. He went on to say that he does not recall Ambrose having any animals on the property.

“If you see that house that he claimed to be living in,” he said. “It’s close to 80 to 100 years old, and when I came to the island that house had no roof. It had no windows, and presently it has no electricity and no water. That’s what we call a derelict home.”

Cluttered, worn-down house with no roof
Remains of structure on the land that Ambrose Adderley used. 

Simpson said network representatives mainted a friendly relationship with Ambrose in the past, which included hiring him on numerous occasions to do work on the property. “3ABN has given him clothing, food, and a bicycle, and on one occasion 3ABN paid for his flight to Nassau for medical care,” he stated. However, he also disputed the family’s assertion that Ambrose lived on the land. Simpson wrote, “To 3ABN’s knowledge, neither he nor anybody else has ever claimed to be in possession of the property that is currently the subject of the quieting title action, or to have any ownership rights of the property.”

In response, Christine Adderley Smith said 3ABN and Shelton took advantage of her brother’s weaknesses, just as they did with her cousin, David Adderley. She said Ambrose does have a drinking problem, but he has found safety and solace living on the family homestead since his birth; that is, until 3ABN came to the island.

“They Would Never Get Me into a Seventh-day Adventist Church”

Norma Fernander belongs to another branch of the Adderley family tree, which owns about 150 acres adjacent to the property that 3ABN now occupies. She is the granddaughter of Mary Adderley Simmons, daughter of the family patriarch. She was raised by her great-uncle Stanley Adderley, one of her grandmother’s brothers, who is the brother of David Adderley’s father.

Norma Fernader and great-uncle Stanley Adderley
Norma Fernander with her great-uncle Stanley Adderley, who raised her on Long Island, Bahamas.

In December of 2022, Fernander received calls from residents on the island informing her that 3ABN was making a road on her family’s land. She went to Long Island to investigate, and when she drove onto the premises, Rodgers approached her dressed in his police uniform, she said. According to Fernander’s account of the story, he asked what she was doing there and told her that his “church people” were interested in her property. In response, Fernander said, she made it clear that it was her property—she had a right to be there and 3ABN had no business encroaching on it. 

Fernander said 3ABN has treated the family as if they don’t deserve the land. “They are saying, ‘This property is too good for you; we should have this,’” she said. “But my great-grandfather bought this property with pride, and it is our legacy. Do you know what it means to have a black man buy that kind of property in the late 1800s?”

Regarding Rodgers' comments about Ambrose Adderley’s personal struggles, she said: “He’s saying that the house doesn’t have a roof and windows and all of that, but that doesn’t matter. Ambrose is there during the day and sometimes goes home to Clarence Town during the night. Or, if he wants to sleep in the open air on the ground, that’s his prerogative. That’s his family’s property. He knows every inch of it" She added, "it was our playground as kids.”

“Ambrose’s personal life has nothing to do with what 3ABN is trying to do. I am sure there are things in Rodgers’ personal life that he doesn’t want anyone to know about. Let him without sin cast the first stone.”

Ambrose Adderley with his sheep
Ambrose Adderley tends to his animals on Long Island, Bahamas. 

Additionally, Fernander, a Christian, said the way 3ABN has been conducting business on the island is a disgrace and a poor representation of Adventism. “3ABN didn’t get that property properly, and they didn’t get it justly,” she said. “It doesn’t speak well of the Adventist faith, and they would never get me into a Seventh-day Adventist church.”

Yi-Shen Ma, PhD, assistant professor and associate director of the Center for Christian Bioethics at Loma Linda University, said the controversy involving 3ABN and the Adderley family raises questions about not only what is legally permissible—but what is just and right.

“Given the complex legal landscape of this case, it is crucial not to lose sight of what is ethically salient in the situation,” he said. “It’s all the more ethically perilous because religious leaders often receive the benefit of the doubt on account of their public demonstration of piety. Thus, Christians should rightly hold them to a higher standard.”

“The tactic of utilizing a complicated legal web,” he said, “is reminiscent of those teachers of the law in Jesus’ time who leveraged their legal expertise to cheat widows out of their property.”

Alva James-Johnson is an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at Southern Adventist University and an award-winning journalist who has worked for several newspapers across the country. She is a lifelong Seventh-day Adventist, active in church ministries, along with her husband and two young adult children.

Title image by Spectrum. Photos courtesy of Alva James-Johnson and the Adderley family. 

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