Fayette County deputies arrested megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar Jr. early Friday morning for allegedly assaulting his 15-year-old daughter. According to the police incident report, the preacher’s 19-year-old daughter, Alexandria, said Dollar “put both hands around her sister’s neck and choked her for about five seconds.” Alexandria Dollar told deputies she then saw her father grab her little sister by the shoulders and slap her in the face. She says the sister tried to break free but was thrown to the ground, at which point Alexandria ran to get her mother, Taffi, whose arrival in the kitchen ended the fight, the incident report states.
The 15-year-old, who also alleges her father beat her with his shoe while pinning her to the floor, sustained “superficial injuries” to her neck, said sheriff’s office spokesman Brent Rowan. The 50-year-old minister was charged with simple battery, family violence and cruelty to children. Deputies were summoned to Dollar’s Sandy Creek Road home around 1 a.m. after receiving a 911 call. They discovered “enough probable cause to make an arrest,” Rowan said.
According to the incident report, the 15-year-old was upset because her father wouldn’t let her attend a party on Saturday. Dollar, longtime pastor of World Changers Church International in College Park, said he was merely trying to restrain his daughter, who he claims was acting disrespectful. While holding her, she began to hit back so he wrestled her to the floor, the report states. Dollar told deputies he then spanked his daughter’s rear and sent her to her room.
Deputies also noted that Alexandria’s story changed when they asked her to write a witness statement. This time, she repeated her father’s version of events, according to the report.
“Alexandria wrote the first statement due to her parents being outside with her while she was writing it,” deputies stated. After separating her from her parents she produced a statement in line with her original testimony,” the report said.
Dollar, released on a $5,000 bond Friday morning, was picked up at the Fayette jail by his wife and one of his sons. A spokesman for the minister said they are preparing a response to the accusations.
Dollar addressed the fracas on his Facebook page, writing, “The fight has already been won. We are just walking it out. It’s already been determined that the devil is defeated through the victory Jesus won. Now we must walk in that victory in our own lives.”
Responded one church member, “I [don't know] the details and I don’t really need to because the glory of God has displayed throughout your life the whole 11 yrs I have been at your church.” Others commenting on Facebook and Twitter were generally supportive of Dollar, the father of five children.
“Im sorry but I aint mad at Creflo Dollar, I dont have teenagers but alot of these kids are out of control,” wrote @jes_is_speakin.
While most supporters cautioned against rushing to judgment, not everyone was quick to forgive.
“Dear Creflo: You know that whole spare the rod thing? There’s a clause that forbids punching and choking,” wrote CNN commentator Goldie Taylor on Twitter.
In a 2006 sermon posted online, Dollar preached about the merits of corporal punishment, telling congregants, “We’re responsible for not abusing our children but for disciplining them.”
“There’s a place for it, and it should only be administered with temperance,” said Dollar, who is known for his embrace of prosperity theology. “You don’t go lose your temper on your child, that’s abuse. But you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water either.”
One longtime observer of Dollar said he may need to temporarily step down from the pulpit as he deals with the fallout from the assault charges.
“It’s very interesting when the preacher gets arrested for battery,” said Anthea Butler, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania . “We have to wait and see what the circumstances are surrounding the charges. Here we see someone who espouses Christian virtues being arrested for battery. Perhaps that’s a real signal that they need to step down from the ministry for a while. How do you get up in the pulpit and preach on Sunday?”
Dollar, a former educational therapist, started World Changers Ministries in 1986 with eight members, holding services in the cafeteria of a local elementary school, according to the church’s website. Its campus now occupies 81 acres, with services held in the 8,500-seat World Dome. Dollar appears regularly on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and has a satellite church in New York City.
In 2007, Dollar and Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia were among six ministries audited by U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, for suspected misuse of funds. Neither pastor cooperated with the probe, citing the separation
of church and state.
Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By Christian Boone and Shelia M. Poole