House of Prayer leader arrested

Five months on the run: Preacher who defied verdict on excessive spanking is caught in park

Atlanta Journal-Constitution/August 19, 2003
By Saeed Ahmed

The leader of the House of Prayer church was arrested Monday night after eluding authorities for nearly five months. The Rev. Arthur Allen Jr. was taken into custody about 9 p.m. after park rangers spotted him parked illegally in an area at Sope Creek near Johnson Ferry Road in Fulton County.

His wife and seven children were with him at the time.

"The park rangers thought he looked familiar and ran a check on the car," said Fulton County Sheriff's Sgt. Nikita Adams-Hightower.

He was arrested without incident. The children were turned over to his wife, said Sgt. Clarence Huber.

Church members reached Monday night did not want to comment on news of the arrest other than to confirm it.

"That is a fact," said Carolyn Ruth, a longtime church member, when asked about the arrest. "Right now we're not giving out any interviews."

Allen, 71, along with two followers -- welder David Duncan, 46, and Duncan's wife, Sharon, 42 -- became fugitives in March after skipping a hearing to determine whether their probation should be revoked.

Last October, a Fulton County jury convicted Allen, the Duncans and two other church members of cruelty to children after two boys, then 10 and 7, showed up at their elementary school with welts and bruises.

Allen was sentenced to 90 days in jail and 10 years' probation, David Duncan to 40 days in jail and eight years' probation and Sharon Duncan to 20 days in jail and five years' probation.

On March 7, a judge issued arrest warrants for Allen and the Duncans after they skipped a hearing to determine whether their probation should be revoked. They had refused to attend anger management counseling and objected to the judge's order that they abstain from whipping their children with a belt, probation officers testified.

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