Co-defendant testifies against minister in church abuse case

One of five people charged with beating a fellow church member to expel homosexual demons is testifying she started the physical assault by slapping the man.

Sarah Anderson testified Friday that she told other leaders at Word of Faith Fellowship she thought Matthew Fenner was unclean and sinful.

Minister Brooke Covington is standing trial on kidnapping and assault charges. Anderson says Covington began the confrontation by screaming at Fenner after a January 2013 service at the church in Spindale, North Carolina. She says she then slapped Fenner, and then Covington and about 30 others joined in, slapping, beating, choking and screaming at the man for two hours.

Anderson says she has no deal with prosecutors. She didn’t say why she decided to incriminate herself.

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Collins reported from Columbia, South Carolina. Read more of AP’s investigation of the Word of Faith Fellowship here . The AP National Investigative Team can be reached at investigate@ap.org


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