Church members face charges

The Digital Courier/February 22, 2004
By Jeremy Fisher

Rutherfordton -- Three members of the Word of Faith Fellowship were summoned to court on charges of false imprisonment Saturday.

Ricky Cooper, Suzanne Cooper, and Carol Smith were each served with a summons on Saturday morning, after former church member Shana Muse filed the complaint.

The summonses state that Muse has accused each individual with unlawfully and willingly restraining or detaining her against her will, with the date of the incident listed as March 23, 2002.

None of the parties involved could be reached for comment Saturday, but Smith and the Coopers are scheduled to appear in court on March 19.

Suzanne Cooper, who is Muse's sister, testified at a custody trial held last year in which Judge Randy Poole ruled that the environment of the Spindale church was damaging to Muse's children.

That case was a custody dispute between Muse and WOFF ministers Brooke and Kent Covington in which Muse attempted to regain custody of her four children after she left the church.

While on the stand, Muse had said that she felt the church had "brainwashed" her children and that Cooper had ordered Muse to spank her children, while Cooper countered that it was Muse who had been abusive.

Muse had lived with Cooper for two and a half years before leaving WOFF.

The Coopers were also recently named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the church against the Department of Social Services.

Church members are charging that DSS has harassed WOFF and that the organization is attempting to attack the church as a whole.

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