Indicted pastor, trainer draw support at rally

Some fidgeted. Other teens stumbled through their speeches.

Katie Williams said it through tears.

“Christian Boot Camp was an enriching experience,” she said. “It taught me the importance of integrity and hard work and that with God, everything is possible.”

Williams said that because of the values she learned at the camp, she would fulfill her dream this fall and become a nurse.

Hers was just one of dozens of success stories told Monday night at a support rally for Pastor Charles E. Flowers of San Antonio’s Faith Outreach Center and a Christian Boot Camp trainer, Stephanie Bassitt, both of whom have been indicted on one count each of aggravated assault.

Flowers, 46, and Bassitt, 20, are both accused of dragging a 15-year-old girl behind a van at the Love Demonstrated Ministries’ boot camp near Corpus Christi. They are free on $100,000 bond.

Williams echoed other teenagers who filled the Faith Outreach Center’s stage when she said everyone who completed the camp was better off because of it.

The rally was Flowers’ first public appearance to address the allegations since he and Bassitt were arrested Aug. 10.

Speaking before a crowd of about 400 supporters, including several pastors from other churches in San Antonio, Flowers said, “I want to thank God I’m no longer in jail.”

“Also on the heels of that,” the retired Air Force instructor continued, “I want to say sometimes you are taken where you don’t want to go.”

Frances McClintock, the mother of the alleged victim, a Floresville student, said last week that she never thought her daughter would name the pastor as one of her assailants.

Affidavits filed to obtain arrest warrants in the case say McClintock’s daughter, Siobahn, told authorities that when she fell behind her running group during a morning exercise June 12, Flowers ordered Bassitt, his training assistant, to jog beside her.

When Siobahn began to walk, Bassitt yelled at her and pinned her to the ground, according to the affidavits.

Flowers then used a rope to tie Siobahn to a van, got behind the wheel and dragged Siobahn behind it on her stomach, the affidavits said.

A witness, who was not named in the affidavits, said Siobahn attempted to stand up and fell at least three times as she was dragged.

Nueces County District Attorney Carlos Valdez declined to comment about the rally, saying it wouldn’t affect prosecution.

“If they say it’s OK to tie up teens to the back of a car and then drag them, then I’m interested,” Valdez said. “That’s the only relevant question.”

He said that although McClintock signed a “parental consent form” before entering her daughter in the program, it doesn’t protect Flowers or Bassitt from prosecution.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday August 22, 2007.
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