Televangelist Creflo Dollar arrested in alleged choking attack on daughter

Creflo Dollar, founder and pastor of World Changers Church International, was arrested early Friday on charges involving the choking of his 15-year-old daughter.

MSNBC reports

Dollar was taken into custody at his Fayetteville home and charged with simple battery and cruelty to children, NBC station WXIA of Atlanta reported.

According to the report from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, Dollar’s daughter called police to say that her father attacked her after they argued about whether the daughter could attend a party.

The report says the daughter alleged that Dollar choked her, then threw her to the ground, punched her and hit her with his shoe. The responding officer noticed a scratch on the daughter’s neck near her throat; the daughter said her father gave her the scratch during the fight.

When police interviewed Dollar, he said he tried to restrain his daughter when she “became very disrespectful” after he told her she couldn’t go to the party, according to the report. Dollar admitted to spanking his daughter and wrestling her to the floor, but said it was because she hit him.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that

According to the police incident report, the preacher’s 19-year-old daughter, Alexandria, said Dollar “put both hands around her sister’s neck and choked her for about five seconds.”

Alexandria Dollar told deputies she then saw her father grab her little sister by the shoulders and slap her in the face. She says the sister tried to break free but was thrown to the ground, at which point Alexandria ran to get her mother, Taffi, whose arrival in the kitchen ended the fight, the incident report states.

The 15-year-old, who also alleges her father beat her with his shoe while pinning her to the floor, sustained “superficial injuries” to her neck, said sheriff’s office spokesman Brent Rowan. The 50-year-old minister was charged with simple battery, family violence and cruelty to children. […]

According to the incident report, the 15-year-old was upset because her father wouldn’t let her attend a party on Saturday. Dollar, longtime pastor of World Changers Church International in College Park, said he was merely trying to restrain his daughter, who he claims was acting disrespectful. While holding her, she began to hit back so he wrestled her to the floor, the report states. Dollar told deputies he then spanked his daughter’s rear and sent her to her room.

Deputies also noted that Alexandria’s story changed when they asked her to write a witness statement. This time, she repeated her father’s version of events, according to the report.

“Alexandria wrote the first statement due to her parents being outside with her while she was writing it,” deputies stated. After separating her from her parents she produced a statement in line with her original testimony,” the report said.

According to WXIA

Dollar was taken to the Fayette County Jail after his arrest. Fayette County Police spokesman Brent Rowan said Dollar had his first appearance in magistrate court Friday and posted $5,000 bond.

The Associated Press says

Dollar faces misdemeanor charges of simple battery and cruelty to children. He bonded out of Fayette County jail Friday morning. Dollar’s lawyer Nikki Bonner said he’s gathering information on the case and had no comment.

WSBTV reporter Tom Jones was there when Creflo emerged from jail:

“Discipline my kid. Love ’em,” Dollar said as he was leaving jail Friday morning. He told Jones he had no comment for his congregation.

Dollar’s bond conditions did not prohibit him from being near his daughter, Jones reported.

The Altlanta Journal-Constitution writes

Dollar addressed the fracas on his Facebook page, writing, “The fight has already been won. We are just walking it out. It’s already been determined that the devil is defeated through the victory Jesus won. Now we must walk in that victory in our own lives.” […]

One longtime observer of Dollar said he may need to temporarily step down from the pulpit as he deals with the fallout from the assault charges.

“It’s very interesting when the preacher gets arrested for battery,” said Anthea Butler, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania . “We have to wait and see what the circumstances are surrounding the charges. Here we see someone who espouses Christian virtues being arrested for battery. Perhaps that’s a real signal that they need to step down from the ministry for a while. How do you get up in the pulpit and preach on Sunday?” says Dollar released a statement through a representative

“As a father I love my children and I always have their best interest at heart at all times, and I would never use my hand to ever cause bodily harm to my children. The facts in this case will be handled privately to further protect my children.  My family thanks you for your prayers and continued support.”

Reporting on Dollar’s arrest, Christianity Today wrote

Earlier this year, CT published an editorial on discipline suggesting that spanking could turn into a form of abuse.

Though the Bible talks about spanking (proponents typically cite only a handful of verses from the Book of Proverbs), it does not condone abuse – which is what so-called ‘discipline’ often turns into.

Read the police report
Creflo Dollar news archive

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday June 8, 2012.
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