Pastor Guilty of Child Cruelty

WXIA TV Atlanta/October 17, 2002
By Jaye Watson

A church pastor and four co-defendants were found guilty of cruelty to children and aggravated assault Thursday and then given sentences ranging from 20 to 90 days.

They must also pay fines, serve probation and attend parenting classes.

The jury in Fulton County, Ga., had deliberated the charges against the Rev. Arthur Allen and four congregants since Monday afternoon.

The case stemmed from a February 2001 beating of two boys, ages 7 and 10, at the independent Atlanta church. A massive state investigation of the church led to the seizure of 49 House of Prayer children from their homes.

All but six have been returned to their parents, including the boys whose beating led to the trial.

Allen, found guilty of two counts on each charge, faced a possible 80-year sentence but instead must serve 90 days. Judge T. Jackson Bedford also ordered Allen to serve 10 years probation and pay an $8,000 fine.

Sharon and David Duncan, two of the defendants who are the parents of one of the victims, each faced 40-year sentences. Instead, David Duncan was sentenced to 40 days in prison, eight years probation and a $500 fine. The judge sentenced his wife to 20 days in prison, five years probation and a $250 fine.

The Duncan can keep their children if they complete the parenting class.

The only not guilty verdicts returned by the jury were in the case against Emanuel Hardeman. Prosecutors contended that Hardeman held the boys while co-defendant Charles Ogletree beat them.

Jurors acquitted Hardeman of the two charges involving David Duncan, Jr.

Hardeman and Ogletree were sentenced to 75 days in prison, 10 years probation and $2,500 fines.

All the defendants went against Judge Bedford's advice and declined legal advice, instead choosing to represent themselves. Pastor Allen delivered the closing arguments for the group, arguing that photos of the boy's bruises were doctored by the state.

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