SWAT Teams, Detectives Raid Local Church

Police Investigate Child Abuse Allegations

WESH TV News/June 5, 2003

Kissimmee, Fla. -- A local church was the target of a series of raids Wednesday in two Central Florida counties.

SWAT teams and detectives armed with search warrants were looking for signs of child abuse, WESH NewsChannel 2 reported.

SWAT teams surround three Hunters Creek apartments rented by Faith in God Christian Deliverance Church. Later, detectives served search warrants at the Osceola County home of the church's pastor, Jack Russell Jones.

"Is there any abuse going on?" WESH NewsChannel 2 reporter Bob Kealing asked.

"Absolutely not," Jones said.

Despite Pastor Jones denials, detectives remove a dozen children from toddlers to teens to check for signs of physical abuse.

"They're free to search my apartment, whatever. I got videotapes of all my services, whatever. I could care less. But I'm tired of it. That's why Johnny Cochran is on the way," Jones said.

"Same mess, garbage. That's what it is, garbage," Chanda Jones said.

The pastor's wife said disgruntled church members kicked out of the congregation have made these allegations before.

"Have any of them been physically abused in any way?" Kealing asked.

"No. No, Honey. They would love to say that, but that's not the truth," Chanda Jones said.

Detectives say those former members have called them with accusations of physical abuse against children -- sometimes to drive out demons.

"We're talking about more than two, more than three, and they're all calling us with the same information, and they're all calling us from all parts of the nation," Orange County Sheriff's Office spokesman Carlos Torres said.

Among the items seized, what look like old-fashioned switches, but the woman known as Prophetess Jones says a church member uses them for baskets.

The Jones' followers do have a place to congregate, but this banner is about the only sign of the Faith in God Christian Deliverance Church. It's tucked in the back of an industrial park here in northern Kissimmee.

Because these children are homeschooled, and part of a small secretive church, detectives said they had no choice but to make the raids and see for themselves.

Based on interviews conducted so far, detectives tell us they don't plan to charge anyone in the church with child abuse. They are continuing to review financial records and other items seized.

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