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Investigation Into Church Discipline Ends With No Charges

July 29, 1995

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) _ Results of a four-month investigation into a church where children were tied to chairs and pounded on the back to drive out ``demon devils″ will be turned over to the state Department of Social Services.

No criminal charges will be filed against the Grace and Truth Fellowship Church, though the findings raise ``serious concerns,″ prosecutor Joe Watson said Thursday.

Deputy Solicitor Regan Pendleton said former and current church members indicated children were given the harsh discipline after they misbehaved.

``My understanding from the statements given by witnesses, any misbehavior or even the inability of the child to sit still, was treated as demonic type things. It was the devil. It was not done allegedly to punish the child but allegedly to rid the child of the demons making the child misbehave,″ she said.

But parental consent to the children’s treatment made the case difficult to prosecute, Watson said.

Jim Carpenter, attorney for Gerald and Linda Southerland, pastors of the church, wouldn’t comment.

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