Austin -- Police issued arrest warrants Monday for a pastor and his brother accused of beating an 11-year-old boy almost an hour because he wasn't taking his biblical studies seriously.
Joshua Thompson and his twin brother, Caleb Thompson, were charged with injury to a child, a felony punishable by life in prison. The boy remains hospitalized at Brackenridge Children's Hospital. Police said the boy attended church at Capital City Baptist Church, an independent, fundamentalist church.
The class was preparing for a competition where children learn Bible verses and stories. Bobby Taylor, an attorney for the boy, said the child was taken to a private home and beaten by a 22-year-old minister. "He cut a branch off a tree, made my client lay on the bed, and then began to beat him. And then beat him for almost an hour," Taylor told News 8 Austin, a cable news station.
In the arrest affidavit, police said Joshua Thompson whipped the boy while his brother held the boy's face down.
Joshua Thompson oversees a Spanish-speaking congregation at the church.
The boy's mother said the beating occurred July 3, and her son was dropped off at his home that morning. She said she was told "he could still use another two hours of discipline," the Austin American-Statesman reported in its online edition Monday night.
A nurse told investigators that the boy's injuries caused his kidneys to fail and that he needed a blood transfusion to live, the newspaper reported.
Defense attorney Gerald Finney said the facts have been distorted. "These are two very responsible young men," he said. "Anybody can make allegations. That's what the criminal justice system is for to sort out truth from fiction."
"The Capital City Baptist Church has a strict policy against corporal punishment -- by the teachers, by the pastor, by the principal of the school," Finney said. "And I do know that Pastor Hank Thompson, the pastor of Capital City Baptist Church, has instructed all of his personnel not to use corporal punishment."