Whaley assault appeal begins

COLUMBUS — A jury was seated and testimony began in Polk County Superior Court for an appealed assault charge against Word of Faith Fellowship leader Jane Whaley.

Whaley was found guilty in March 2004 of assaulting Lacy Wien, who at the time of the assault, was a member of the Spindale-based church.

Wien left the church shortly after the incident and filed charges in late 2003.

The case is being heard in Polk County after Whaley’s attorneys asked for a change of venue.

None of the six men and six women who were seated on the jury, including several who work in Rutherford County, said they had heard of the WOFF.

The trial, which is expected to take most of Tuesday and possibly go into Wednesday, began with Assistant District Attorney Joe Hamrick calling Wien to the stand.

Word of Faith Fellowship
The Word of Faith Fellowship is an abusive church. Its teachings and practices fall so far outside those of normal, Biblical Christianity, that this church should be considered to be, theologically, a cult of Christianity. Sociologically, the WOFF has many cultic characteristics as well.

She described the incident and the events that took place before and shortly after.

Wien was 18 at the time of the alleged Feb. 24, 2002 assault.

She said the WOFF was a very controlling place which she had desired to leave on a number of occasions, but got more serious about leaving after meeting now-husband Ruben Wien.

Lacy desired a relationship with Ruben, but she said Whaley objected to that and the issue reached a peak on a Sunday at the church.

Wien said she had, for the first time, told church leadership that she wanted to be with Wien and a series of events which included Lacy’s mother and Whaley ensued.

At one point Wien said her mother, Lisa Brown, and Lynn Millwood took her to what Wien described as “The Holding Room” which was a small utility closet or room which Wien said was used for people “who needed to be set aside.”

She said Brown and Millwood asked Wien to bend over a white table and they had a paddle ready to spank her.

Wien refused and Millwood left the room to get Whaley, said Wien.

“My mother was telling me to say ‘help me Jesus’ to ask to keep my heart locked to in to the WOFF,” said Wien. “Mrs. Whaley came in straight toward me with her hands and grabbed me by the neck and pulled me out of the chair and was beating my head against the wall and yelling at me and calling me all sorts of horrible names such as fornicator.”

Wien said she later began to tingle and feel a little numb.

“(Whaley) said if I left the church with Ruben that God had told her the night before that he would use my body in New York and make me a prostitute and he would leave and go be with his twin sister and they would have a perverted relationship,” Wien said.

Wien said Whaley had controlled her whole life included dictating what college to attend and what to study.

Wien said she wanted to go to Winston-Salem to seek a career in the medical field, but Whaley refused to allow it.

“She said there are designated people that are allowed to go practice law or medicine and, that spiritually, that path was not for me,” said Wien.

Wien said the control extended to trying set her up with someone other than Ruben.

Hamrick asked Wien why it took her more than a year-and-a-half to file charges.

“I was afraid,” she said of Whaley. “I didn’t know if I could stand being around her, I usually just get chills being around her. I just didn’t think I was strong enough.”

Whaley’s defense team of Robert Long and Tom Hix began their cross examination, with Long directing the questioning.

They got only a short way into their questions before several issues about the relevance of some questions came up.

Judge Dennis Winner pulled the jury out and heard the line of questions from Long which related to statements Wien had made in sworn depositions for other court proceedings as well a questionnaire from the Wellspring retreat in Ohio.

Winner ruled the statements, given in the summer of 2003 as irrelevant and inadmissible.

Wellspring is a counseling and education center geared towards people leaving cults, which former members contend the WOFF is.

Testimony will resume Tuesday with Wien on the stand first.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Daily Courier, USA
Feb. 8, 2005
Jerry Stensland, Daily Courier Staff Writer

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday February 9, 2005.
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