A San Antonio pastor and an employee of his Christian boot camp were arrested Friday on aggravated assault charges, accused of dragging a girl behind a van after she failed to keep up during a running exercise.
Investigators with the Nueces County Sheriff’s Office arrested Charles E. Flowers, 46, shortly before noon at the Faith Outreach Center in northwest San Antonio, said Brad E. Bailey, a spokesman for the Schertz Police Department.
Bailey said boot camp trainer Stephanie Bassitt, 20, was later arrested without incident at her home in Kirby.
Flowers and Bassitt each were being held on $100,000 bail at the Nueces County Jail in Corpus Christi.
Girl alleges second assault
Authorities said both Flowers and Bassitt restrained the girl June 12, tying her to the back of a van with a piece of rope before dragging her on her stomach at the Love Demonstrated Ministries’ boot camp in Banquete, about 10 miles west of Corpus Christi.
Schertz police assisted Nueces County authorities in the arrests because the camp’s orientation sessions are held in Schertz, and the 15-year-old girl claimed she was assaulted there, too.
Bailey said the second assault claim was turned over to the Comal County district attorney’s office, which hasn’t said if any criminal charges will result.
He said the assault described as having occurred in Schertz isn’t as severe as the dragging claim out of Nueces County.
“Obviously force was used, but the big question is whether or not it exceeded the force permitted by the parents,” Bailey said, adding camp officials said they had permission slips from parents that allowed them to discipline their children.
Flowers declined to comment on the allegations Friday, evading reporters outside the offices of the Faith Outreach Center.
Scrapes and bruises
Authorities interviewed on Friday could not say how far the teenager was allegedly dragged. Her mother complained to authorities after boot camp personnel took her daughter to get treated for scrapes and bruises on her stomach, legs and arms.
Flowers, a retired U.S. Air Force instructor, holds the title of commandant of the boot camp he has operated with his wife, Janice, since the mid-1990s, states the camp’s Web site.
The camp was created to “reinstill the values that have been lost in our society for a couple of generations, values such as discipline, morality, unity and integrity.”
Exempt from regulation
Last year, Love Demonstrated Ministries reported private and government contributions totaling $314,673 to operate the boot camp, with nearly 89 percent of the costs, $278,549, going for salaries.
Associate pastors at the Faith Outreach Center couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.
Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said it “appeared that this operation is probably exempt from our regulation.”
He said for a camp to be licensed, it needed to operate longer than 11 weeks.
The camp in Nueces County only lasts 32 days.