Pastor at Christian boot camp indicted on assault charge

CORPUS CHRISTI (AP) – The director of a Christian boot camp and an employee have been indicted on aggravated assault charges for allegedly dragging a 15-year-old girl behind a van after she fell behind the group during a morning run.

Charles Eugene Flowers and Stephanie Bassitt of San Antonio-based Love Demonstrated Ministries are accused of tying Siobahn McClintock to the van with a rope and then dragging her, according to an arrest affidavit filed by the Nueces County Sheriff’s Department.

“This is a tragic incident,” District Attorney Carlos Valdez said. “This is the next step in seeing justice is done.”

Thursday’s indictment followed the arrest of the defendants last week. Flowers, a pastor at the Faith Outreach Center, and Bassitt were released Wednesday from Nueces County Jail after posting $100,000 bond each.

The 32-day boot camp for girls ages 13 to 19 includes 28 days at a facility near San Antonio, then four days at a camp in Banquete, about 10 miles west of Corpus Christi.

Flowers, the camp’s director, allegedly ordered Bassitt to run alongside the girl after she fell behind during a June exercise, the affidavit said. When the girl stopped running, Bassitt allegedly yelled at her and pinned her to the ground while Flowers tied the rope to her, according to the affidavit.

Scrapes and bruises still were evident on the girl’s face, abdomen, legs and arms when she arrived home two days later, the affidavit said.

Frances McClintock, the 15-year-old’s mother, said she researched the camp and thought it would be good for her daughter. She signed a release form but didn’t expect her daughter to be harmed, she said.

“I talked to parents and kids and it all sounded good and really positive. I counted on the Christian part,” she said.

Flowers, a retired U.S. Air Force instructor, has declined to comment on the allegations.

A San Antonio religious organization called the Gathering of Pastors and Leaders expressed support for Flowers in a prepared statement.

“Pastor Flowers has worked devotedly and sacrificially with troubled youth for over ten years,” said Rune Brannstrom, the group’s president. “For some this boot camp has been what a judge has decided as a last chance before going to prison. There are hundreds of teens that have been positively impacted by the love, strength and devotion of Pastor Flowers’ ministry.”

Valdez criticized a “parental consent form” the camp had parents sign before their children attended. The form states, “I realize that Christian Boot Camp is a strenous (sic) and highly intense program. I further realize that the possibility of accident, injury or even fatality to my child does exist.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday August 18, 2007.
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