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Hearing set in DSS, church case

The Daily Courier, USA
Aug. 20, 2003
JERRY STENSLAND, Daily Courier Staff Writer • Thursday August 21, 2003

RUTHERFORDTON — A long-awaited hearing involving the children of former Word of Faith Fellowship member Shana Muse is expected to be heard Thursday before Judge Suzy Bridges in a Department of Social Services court session.

The case, filed by DSS, alleges the choice Muse made last year to leave her children with a family in the WOFF constituted abuse and made her an unfit mother at the time.

DSS is seeking immediate, temporary custody of the children from Kent and Brooke Covington. Kent Covington is a minister in the WOFF.

Muse supports the DSS action because she wants her children removed from the WOFF.

Thursday’s hearing will determine whether or not the WOFF environment in which Muse’s children have been residing is abusive.

The DSS petition which began the case filed in May states that church engages in “grossly inappropriate procedures to modify the children’s behavior.”

The children, between the ages of 8 and 16, have been in the custody of the Covingtons for nearly a year. Muse had signed an agreement giving the Covington’s temporary custody of the children.

The Convingtons were added as parties to the case at a June 27 hearing before Judge David Fox. The original suit did not name the Covingtons has a party, instead listing the practices of the church as the basis for the complaint.

On July 18, WOFF attorney Tom Hix tried to get the case dismissed and other limitations. Judge Randy Pool rejected all of Hix’s motions and scheduled Thursday’s hearing.

Judge Bridges had, at one time, recused herself from WOFF cases because of work was scheduled to be done on her house by WOFF member Ray Farmer’s construction company. That work, however, was not done by Farmer and she is expected to hear the case.

DSS is represented by attorney Brad Greenway. Muse is represented by attorney Ed Hensley who is based in Canton.

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