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Pastor, Congregants Charged With Child Abuse for Alleged Beatings

January 19, 2002|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — The pastor and 10 members of an Atlanta church that backs the corporal punishment of children were charged with child abuse Friday for allegedly beating two boys during services last year.

The aggravated assault and child cruelty charges are the latest development in the highly publicized investigation of the 130-member House of Prayer church.

Those indicted include the Rev. Arthur Allen Jr., 69, and 10 parents of children who were taken into protective custody during the investigation. Allen said he and members of his congregation will plead innocent.

"I will call for a trial by jury," Allen said at his church Friday. "I'm delighted for the opportunity to face these charges, to resolve everything one way or another."

Prosecutor Paul Howard said the spankings left both boys with open wounds near vital organs. He said the boys were beaten after refusing to cooperate and just "being kids."

"This is not a normal whipping," Howard said. "These are severe and extreme beatings."

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