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Pastor Guilty of Child Beating for Punishing His Daughter, 14

July 04, 1991|JAMES QUINN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Pacoima pastor who said he whipped his teen-age daughter to punish her for lying and disobeying was convicted Wednesday in Van Nuys Superior Court of felony child beating.

William Sutton Henderson, 39, a pastor at Praise Chapel Fellowship in Pacoima, faces up to eight years and four months in prison.

At the time of his arrest in January, Henderson was on parole from a 1977 conviction in Nevada for rape, robbery and forcible oral copulation.

At the trial, several members of Henderson's congregation testified to his good character.

Henderson, weeping openly, told jurors that he beat his daughter Latasha, 14, solely to curb her lying and her refusal to obey. He said she was doing poorly in school and often lied about getting into trouble with teachers.

"I never intended to cause my daughter pain or injuries," he said on the stand.

But Deputy Dist. Atty. Teri M. Hutchison argued that the beatings went beyond what would have been required to discipline a youngster. Hutchison cited testimony by Latasha that her father beat her about twice a week from June through December, 1990, when the girl was living with her father because her mother could not handle her.

The daughter said that her father used electrical cords to whip her on her legs, buttocks, back, hands and the bottom of her feet.

She said that as a result of the beatings, often her hands were "so puffed up that I could hardly close them."

Henderson was arrested after the girl's mother, who lives in Nevada, reported to police that Latasha returned from her father's home with numerous scars on her body.

Jurors deliberated for three days before convicting Henderson of all charges--two counts of felony child beating and two of misdemeanor child endangerment.

Jurors refused to be interviewed after the verdict.

Judge John Fisher scheduled sentencing for Aug. 28. Since his arrest Jan. 8, Henderson has been in jail in lieu of $250,000 bail.

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