Associated Press, Jan. 5, 2003
SPINDALE, N.C. – The co-founders of a Rutherford County church have been ordered to appear in court Jan. 17 to explain why they haven’t provided names of youngsters at its child care facility.
Court papers served Friday at Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale name church founders Sam and Jane Whaley. They have been asked to answer allegations that church officials are obstructing a probe into potential abuse toward children at the day care.
Church officials have refused to provide the names and addresses of all the children ages from birth to 5 years old, according to a lawyer for the county’s Department of Social Services.
Jane Whaley said the church was cooperating with DSS officials.
“We have nothing that we would keep from DSS … we will, we have done it, and we want to cooperate,” she said.
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Social services attorney Brad Greenway said allegations of abusive behaviors toward the children were made within the past two weeks.
In the petition, DSS officials says they have reason to believe the children are in need of immediate protection and/or assistance based on the allegations. Greenway would not elaborate on the allegations.
WOFF, formed more than two decades ago, has been in the public spotlight for nearly eight years over its practices.
Some former members have alleged excessive spanking and screaming prayers at children to drive out demons. An SBI investigation of the church led to no charges.
At least three child custody cases involving the church have moved through the court system over the past three years.
Current and former members said during a 2000 custody case that the blastings have decreased in recent years and children are no longer tied to chairs during the process.