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Indy nonprofit founder accused of using money for sex, soliciting minors

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Posted at 7:50 PM, Mar 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-29 08:33:40-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Tyree Coleman, 43, known as Elder Coleman in the community and for being an advocate for the homeless and youth outreach is now facing charges for using money to pay for sex acts and solicit a minor.

Elder Coleman founded Refuge Place and is tied to Seven Pillars Incorporated, nonprofit organizations that rely on donations.

On March 23, Coleman was charged with rape, intimidation, promotion of child sex trafficking, promotion of human sex trafficking and failure to register as a sex offender.

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Court documents state Coleman met a 17-year-old at Watkins Park last June to "pray with and help buy him new clothes."

Court documents state Coleman met a 17-year-old at Watkins Park last June to "pray with and help buy him new clothes."

That allegedly turned into Coleman Facetiming him and offering the teenager a thousand dollars to have sex with him or show Coleman his genitals.

The teen reported Coleman, which led to an investigation by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

Throughout the investigation, records show, detectives found several messages on Coleman's phone containing nude photos and videos in exchange for money.

In one case, $300 was offered for oral sex.

In January, detectives received another complaint about Coleman.

This complaint came from a man who says he lived with Coleman after meeting him while he was serving out his ministry bus.

He alleges Coleman hurt him, leading to the rape and intimation charge.

Coleman is also accused of giving the man $20 to $30 for oral sex and using the same donations received from people in the downtown area while Coleman was handing out food or clothing, to pay him.

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Neighbor, Bryon Yeager, is startled by these allegations.

"I think it's terrible that it happened in our neighborhood and I can't believe it and if we knew anything about it we would've called the police and took care of it," Yeager said.

Martin Mar, whose been a supporter of Coleman's feeding events is sticking beside him.

"What he did outweighs more than what's against him," said Martin.

 We found Coleman's ministry is registered to a dentist office.

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Coleman's ministry is registered to a dentist office.

We searched for 990 filings, which are required by the IRS for nonprofits, but couldn't find any.

Coleman's next court hearing is next month.

There are ways you can check to see if a nonprofit exists before donating:

Start by searching the Secretary of State's page or the Indiana non-profit database.