Each day thousands of children are abused and neglected in the United States. Statistics show a child is abused every 10 seconds and 5 children die daily due to child abuse and neglect, and these statistics are quickly on the rise.
Today Latest.com reported a pastor and two church members from The Heart of Worship pleaded guilty to "torturing and threatening the life of a 13-year-old boy." The boy's mother asked the three men to teach her son "how to be a man after he sexually assaulted his 7-year-old sister."
The pastor ministered a group to about 20 members, "predominantly single mothers and transient men seeking to re-establish their lives. The church operated a group home providing members with food and shelter for a fee. The self-claimed man of God was the ultimate authority, dictating what members read, who they dated and what movies they watched. He was also in charge of discipline, which resulted in the boy’s abuse."
According to court records the boy had been living with his mother and 7 year old sister in the group home until she decided to take him to the mission to be disciplined for sexually assaulting his sister. A member of the church testified the boy’s mother wanted the group pastor to "teach her son how to be a man and learn responsibility."
It was then the pastor and two men took the boy to the desert, where they "forced him to dig a grave and attempted to bury him alive." The boy testified he dug for "one to one and a half hours." He added, he was then "told to get into the hole and was told that depending on how he acts would determine if he would leave alive." The teen testified he was "afraid he was going to be killed and begged for one more chance." The teen did try to exit the hole but when he tried to escape, "the men threw dirt on him" and they struck "him with belts." The teen feared "he was going to be buried alive." He was later released from the hole, but when the boy returned to the group home "he was stripped naked and tortured further."
The boy testified he was "stripped naked and forced into a chair" and "his hands and feet were bound to the chair with zip ties and he was placed in the shower." The teen was then maced and wasn't allowed to "wash it off for 30 minutes, even after his mouth and nose began to bleed. Due to the pain, he thrashed his face from side to side, splattering his own blood on the walls of the shower. The men rubbed salt into the boy’s cuts and wounds to increase the pain."
The entire torture session lasted about an hour.
The teen also said "the pastor used pliers to pinch his nipple in front of the entire group during a prayer meeting. The boy screamed in horrible pain." The teen boy was then forced to "live with the pastor and his wife."
In the midst of these horrible actions done against a child, one church member reported the event to local police. However, the police officer "did not take the accusations seriously and never reported them to her boss." Reportedly she was released from her job, but otherwise she went unpunished.
The church pastor is still awaiting sentencing, but the two men who helped him torture the boy received sentences of "only a year in home confinement and probation for their crimes."
If you see, hear or suspect a child is being abused or neglected it is your moral duty to report it. Here is a list of state toll-free numbers for specific agencies designated to receive and investigate reports of suspected child abuse and neglect. For your privacy and protection you can file a report of child abuse anonymously.