Whaley’s assault case postponed

RUTHERFORDTON — The court date for an misdemeanor assault charge against Jane Whaley was delayed again Monday after Judge Randy Pool recused himself.

Whaley, co-founder of the Word of Faith Fellowship with her husband Sam, is accused of assaulting Lacy Wien, a former WOFF member.

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 a cult of Christianity

The case is now scheduled for March 3 before Judge Robert Cilley.

The is the second time the case has been postponed.

It was Cilley who declared the original criminal summons on Whaley “fatally flawed” because it listed the offense one year later than it is alleged to have occurred.

Assistant District Attorney Joe Hamrick who was handling the case for the prosecution said Pool felt like the testimony he heard in another case may have biased Pool’s opinion on the assault charge.

“This is limited to this case,” said Hamrick. “He made it clear that this did not imply he couldn’t hear any case from these parties.”

Pool was the judge who ruled in October after seven days of testimony that the WOFF environment was abusive to children and ordered the four minor children of Shana Muse be removed from the temporary custody of a church couple.

Wien had testified during that proceeding, relaying some of the details the alleged Whaley assault.

“Some of the facts presented in that case intersected with the facts in this case,” said Hamrick.

Whaley’s attorneys had prepared a brief for Monday’s proceeding requesting Pool’s recusal.

Wien says the incident took place in February 2002, shortly before she left the WOFF for good.

She testified on that day in December before Whaley’s attorney Henderson Hill asked for, and received, the dismissal from Cilley.

Wien says Whaley physically assaulted her and restrained her for nearly two hours.

“Jane Whaley had her hands out like this (in front of her) and she grabbed me around the neck and pulled me up and put me up against at wall and was beating my head against the wall,” testified Wien in December. “She was shouting at me and saying things like ‘You’re a fornicator.'”

Wien said that Whaley told her she had a prophecy that Wien would leave the church and commit suicide on March 23 after Ruben took Lacy away from the church and profited from prostituting Lacy.

During the what Wien says was two hours of abuse, Whaley wanted to blast Wien, but Wien did not cooperate. Blasting, or strong prayer, is one of the controversial practices of the church which involves loud screaming or moaning which the church claims drives out evil forces.

“She said I could not leave the meeting until I renounced by love for Ruben,” said Wien.

Wien left the church with Ruben shortly after the incident and the two married that August. Ruben is also a former WOFF member and a native of Sweden.

Wien still has family in the WOFF including her mother.

The WOFF has been under the microscope from the media, law enforcement and social services since 1995 for their unusual practices which include blasting, corporal punishment and a practice called discipleship, or isolation by some former members.

Multiple former members have come forward in recent years to tell their stories of what they claim is emotional and physical abuse at the hands of people in the church.

The church operates its own school and many of the 400 church members work in businesses owned by other church members. Members socialize very little with people outside the church.

WOFF recently filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Social Services for alleged bias against the church. The primary force behind the claim is religious discrimination.

Recently, Judge Randy Pool ruled the church environment was abusive to children and ordered the four children of Shana Muse removed from the home of a couple in the church.

Muse had left the children with WOFF ministers Kent and Brooke Covington because the children refused to the leave the church with Muse. Muse claims the children were brainwashed to believe that if they left the church they would go to hell.

Muse received treatment from Wellspring, a facility in Ohio that counsels ex-cult members. Ex-members and their supporters say the church is a cult because of its controlling nature and structure centered around Whaley.

Muse returned to the Rutherford County in December of 2002 to try to get her children back.

Muse’s two younger boys are in foster care and the girls in a group care facility. The two girls are in the process of trying to get their own lawyers and become emancipated from their mother. The girls are ages 15 and 16.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Daily Courier, USA
Jan. 13, 2004
Jerry Stensland, Daily Courier Staff Writer

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday January 13, 2004.
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