RUTHERFORDTON — Two relatives of Shana Muse have filed charges that Muse assaulted them on the same day Muse claims she was falsely imprisoned.
Ricky Cooper and Lena Cooper, Muse’s brother-in-law and niece, filed separate charges against Muse, who was served with the criminal summons’ Monday.
Ricky Cooper claims that Muse hit him in his face with her hand on March 23, 2002. On the same day, Lena Cooper alleges that Muse swung at her and spit in her face.
A court date of April 2 was set to hear the misdemeanor charges.
Ricky Cooper did not return a phone call Tuesday.
The Coopers are current members of the Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale. Muse is a former member of the controversial church and lived with the Coopers during her two-and-a-half years in the church.
In February, Muse charged that the Coopers, including her sister, Ricky’s wife, Suzanne Cooper, and Carol Smith falsely imprisoned her by retaining her against her will. Those charges are to be heard in district court Friday.
Muse said Monday that what she did on that day in 2002 was in only because she was being held against her will.
“He (Rick) might of gotten hit in the face, but it was in self defense,” said Muse. “When you are trapped with six people at the door you do anything you can to get out.”
Muse said she believes the charges filed by the Coopers serve as partial proof of her charge because they admit to an event occurring on March 23, 2002.
In October 2003, Muse’s four children were removed from the home of WOFF ministers Kent and Brooke Covington and placed in the custody of the Rutherford County Department of Social Services. Muse had left the children with the Covingtons while she sought counseling at a center in Ohio catering to former cult members.
Suzanne Cooper testified against Muse in the DSS-initiated court proceeding which resulted in Judge Randy Pool ruling that the WOFF environment was abusive to children.
Suzanne Cooper stated that it was Muse who was a danger to her children and not the WOFF.
Muse testified that she tried to leave the church on several occasion but was prevented from doing so.
Muse’s four children were placed in temporary care settings where they remain. Muse is currently living and working in Rutherford County, but plans to return to Florida where her mother and another sister live if she is awarded full custody of her children.
The WOFF has been under legal and media scrutiny since its unusual practices became public in 1995.
The church is described by many ex-members as a place which exerts complete control over the lives of its members. The ex-members say they were required to “lock-in” at all times of the day with another church member so their location would always be known. A practice called blasting is used to drive demons out. Anywhere from two to over 20 people will gather in a circle and use loud, guttural screams and moans to exorcise the demons.
WOFF co-founder and lead spiritual leader Jane Whaley was recently found guilty of assaulting a former member.
The WOFF claims it is a place of refuge for people seeking religious guidance. A number of current and former members have battled personal problems before joining the church in an attempt to turn their lives around.