Hearing delayed for Muse girls

RUTHERFORDTON — A hearing regarding thee emancipation of two teenage girls who want to return to the Word of Faith Fellowship was delayed until Thursday.

The girls, ages 16 and 17, are the daughters of former WOFF member Shana Muse who is seeking to regain custody of both the girls and her two younger boys.

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 four children were removed from the home of WOFF ministers Kent and Brooke Covington in October 2003 after the Rutherford County Department of Social Services brought charges against the WOFF alleging abuse of the children.

Judge Randy Pool ruled in favor of DSS and ordered the children placed in DSS custody. The case is under appeal.

Muse asked for the delay in the case after her attorney was unable to attend Monday’s scheduled hearing for health reasons. Muse was given until Thursday and was seeking another attorney to go before Judge Robert Cilley that day.

The girls have their own attorney, Philip Roth of Asheville. An emancipation ruling would let the girls function as adults and would remove any legal authority either DSS or Muse have over them.

In other court proceedings, the girls have expressed a clear desire to return to life within the Spindale-based church. They refer to the Covington’s as Mom Brooke and Dad Kent.

Muse has said she believes the girls are essentially brainwashed by the cultic control she says the WOFF exhibits over its members.

Judge Pool’s ruling was a clear indictment of the WOFF practices calling the environment the church maintains abusive to children.

Muse’s two boys, who are younger and have a different father than the girls, have been staying at a separate foster home from the girls since the 2003 ruling. DSS is in the process of determining if Muse can regain full custody of the children.

A hearing related to that decision has been delayed until at least October.

North Carolina statutes on emancipation allow children age 16 or older to petition.

A hearing will take place with a judge, but no jury, presiding over testimony and cross examination. The burden of proof is on the petitioner, in this case the two girls.

The court can approve the emancipation if the following are in place:

• That all parties are properly before the court or were duly served and failed to appear and that time for filing an answer has expired;

• That the petitioner has shown a proper and lawful plan for adequately providing for the petitioner’s needs and living expenses;

• That the petitioner is knowingly seeking emancipation and fully understands the ramifications of the act; and,

• That emancipation is in the best interests of the petitioner.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
The Daily Courier, USA
Aug. 24, 2004
Jerry Stensland, Daily Courier Staff Writer

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