Witness: Woman not same after fall at church

CHARLOTTE – At the 2002 church service where a woman says she was injured in a spirituality-induced fall, several church members also were being “slain in the Spirit,” a former church member testified Tuesday.

“People were falling all over … they were just going down,” said Diane Slocum, who later saw an injured Judith Dadd being tended to in the women’s bathroom.

Dadd is suing Delta Township’s Mount Hope Church and its pastor, David R. Williams, for her injuries and also for defamation, stemming from a letter and other statements she says the pastor made.

Dadd, who is seeking unspecified damages in excess of $25,000, claims she went to the altar during the July 18, 2002, service and was “overcome by the Spirit of the Lord,” according to the lawsuit. She fell backward and struck her head on the floor.

Trained ushers at the 4,000-member church should have been there to catch her, as they had in the past, one of Dadd’s attorneys, Richard Rashid, said during opening arguments. But no one called 911 or even applied a Band-Aid that day, according to testimony Tuesday.

Linda Gruizenga, who also was at the altar when Dadd fell, testified that Dadd hit the floor hard.

“It was a … hollow sound, like a crunch,” said Gruizenga, who still is a member of the church. She testified she rushed over to Dadd and helped her to a pew.

“Why didn’t you call 911?” asked Randolph Bodwin, an attorney representing Williams and the church. “I don’t think that thought occurred to me,” Gruizenga said.

Bobbie Miller, who was at the service and is now a pastor of her own local church, said her friend Judith Dadd was not the same person after the incident.

Other church members helped Dadd to a bathroom, where Miller testified she used paper towels to “sop up the blood.” Miller described how she pulled broken pieces of a hair clip out of Dadd’s scalp.

Testimony in the civil lawsuit began Tuesday morning in Eaton County Circuit Court before Judge Calvin Osterhaven.

Williams previously had assured church members they would be caught if they fell, said Bobbie Miller’s husband, Peter, who that day videotaped a close-up of Dadd’s injury.

Bobbie Miller described a letter that the pastor sent to church members in October 2005 after Dadd filed her suit. The letter cited scriptures, which Miller believed were meant to attack Dadd. “Our battle is against the devil not against one another,” she said.

Under cross-examination, Miller testified that during a trip to Las Vegas the year after the fall, Dadd complained of headaches and difficulty concentrating, but nothing else. Miller also said she and Dadd traveled to New York City in 2004 after Dadd won a trip through her good performance working for an insurance company.

Dadd’s friend, Cynthia Woodard, raised the possibility that a person who is “slain in the Spirit” cannot be injured.

“In my opinion,” Woodard told Bodwin, “I don’t see why someone should be hurt.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday May 2, 2007.
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