County won't call minister 'indigent'

Atlanta Journal-Constitution/December 2, 2003
By Beth Warren

The House of Prayer pastor convicted of excessively punishing two boys won't get the county's help paying for his appeal, a Fulton County judge ruled Monday.

The Rev. Arthur Allen Jr., 71, can't pay $6,000 for a transcript of his two-week trial, which is holding up his appeal for a new trial, argued his attorney, Deborah Poole.

Allen and four congregants were convicted last year of whipping the two boys in 2001 so hard in church that the beatings left bruises and welts. A Fulton County jury decided the punishment crossed the line and constituted abuse.

Allen was convicted on felony charges of cruelty to children and is serving a two-year prison sentence.

Fulton Superior Court Judge T. Jackson Bedford Jr. said he couldn't declare Allen indigent because of the minister's property holdings.

"I have a hard time finding that when a person has five or six parcels of property, the taxpayers should pay for the appeal," the judge said. Bedford said most requests for indigent status come from defendants who don't even own their homes.

The pastor's wife, Trina Allen, tried to convince the judge that her family can't afford her husband's legal bills.

She said she gave birth to their eighth child six months ago and has no job. She said she makes ends meet with Social Security payments and about $23,000 she collects annually from tenants at an apartment complex her husband owns.

Trina Allen also said she has tried but has not been able to sell her husband's 1987 Jaguar and some undeveloped land in Fulton and DeKalb counties.

Her husband also owns their house and two properties used by the church on Hollywood Road.

About 40 members of the small, nondenominational church in northwest Atlanta crowded in the courtroom for the hearing.

Allen, dressed in a navy jail jumper, turned to wave and flash them a smile before he left the courtroom.

Several hands shot up and a chorus of cheerful voices exclaimed: "We love you, Reverend."

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