Fourth church member will face charges

The Daily Courier/February 27, 2004

Rutherfordton -- A fourth member of the Word of Faith Fellowship was charged Wednesday with misdemeanor false imprisonment.

Lena Gail Cooper, 19, of 873 Old Stonecutter Rd. was served with a criminal summons to face the charges in court on March 19.

Cooper's mother Suzanne, father Ricky and Carol Smith were served for the same charges last weekend.

The four have been accused by Suzanne's sister Shana Muse.

Each is accused of unlawfully and willingly restraining or detaining Muse against her will on March 23, 2002.

According to reports, Lena Cooper was served the summons without incident Wednesday.

Muse recently had her four children removed from the home of WOFF ministers Kent and Brooke Convington.

The Department of Social Services brought the action after alleging child abuse occurred in the controversial Spindale church.

After eight days of court testimony, Judge Randy Pool agreed with the DSS claim of abuse and placed the children in DSS custody in October.

Muse and Suzanne Cooper testified at the proceeding. Muse testified that she tried to leave the church on multiple occasions but was not allowed to.

Muse lived with the Coopers for most of her time in the church.

She ultimately did leave, but only after deciding to leave her children with the Covingtons. The children had refused to leave, which Muse claims was because of fear instilled in them by the WOFF.

Muse later returned to get her children, getting a partial victory with the DSS effort.

A court date of March 19 has been set for the charges.

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