Church couple now 'fugitives'

Parents miss meeting with probation officer

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/March 4, 2003
By Jill Young Miller

Two members of the House of Prayer church were classified as fugitives Monday after failing to turn themselves in to their probation officer, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Corrections said.

Church members David and Sharon Duncan, convicted of child cruelty in October, did not report in as expected by by 4:30 p.m. Monday for allegedly violating terms of their probation.

"As far as we are concerned, they are fugitives" said Scheree Lipscomb, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Corrections. She said the state will pursue their arrest.

If Sharon Duncan's probation is revoked, she could face up to five years in prison. David Duncan, her husband, could face up to eight.

The Duncans could not be reached for comment Monday, and their attorney, Manny Arora, said he didn't know their whereabouts. "I haven't heard from them," he said. "I've left messages."

Last week Sharon Duncan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she and her husband planned to meet with their probation officer Monday morning and go to jail because they had refused to sign a document saying they would only hand-spank their children when physically disciplining them.

A judge on Wednesday signed an arrest warrant for the Duncans for failing to attend court-ordered anger management counseling. Judge T. Jackson Bedford Jr. of Fulton County Superior Court, also signed a warrant for the Rev. Arthur Allen Jr. for failing to comply with conditions of his probation. Arora, who is also Allen's lawyer, said probation officials told him the reverend hasn't complied with court-ordered counseling.

Allen is expected meet with his probation officer and turn himself in by the end of business Thursday, Lipscomb said.

The pastor could not be reached for comment Monday, and no one answered the door at his house.

A church member said she didn't see him at church on Sunday.

In October, a jury convicted the Duncans, Allen and two other church members of cruelty to children for the whippings of two boys, then 7 and 10, at the small, northwest Atlanta church.

One of the boys who was whipped is the Duncans' son. All of the convicted adults served time in jail and have been on probation.

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