NORTH CAROLINA: Five Church Members Charged With Kidnapping Gay Man

Via a local North Carolina CBS affiliate:

Five members of a local church are facing serious charges. The Word of Faith Fellowship has been apart of the Spindale community in Rutherford County, North Carolina for more than three decades. One former member says something that happened behind closed doors had him fearing for his life.

“I honestly thought I was going to die,” said Matthew Fenner. He says several church members beat and strangled him because he’s gay. “My head was like being flung back, my vision was going brown and black,” said Fenner. “I couldn’t breathe and I’m sitting here thinking if I don’t get out of this, i’m probably going to die.”

That 2013 incident has now led to the indictments of five church members: Sarah Covington Anderson, Adam Christopher Bartley, Brooke McFadden Covington, Justin Brock Covington and Robert Louis Walker Jr. Each face simple assault and kidnapping charges. Anderson also faces an additional charge of assault by strangulation. The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office released the information Tuesday afternoon.

Fenner’s mother and brother testified against him during a grand jury convened on Monday. Kenner has recounted other incidents of abuse by church members. Via Matt Comer reports at Q Notes:

Fenner continues, “I had at least 15-20 college age men around me, screaming, shaking me, punching me, hitting my chest, grabbing my head, telling me to repeat different phrases, all of which caused (and have resulted in much) mental distress to high levels.” Later in the incident, Fenner says he was surrounded again by a larger group of young men. “The pushing, screaming, hitting, and shaking ensued again, and this time with more force,” he writes. “If I so much as adjusted myself in the chair, I was knocked bak down and was told to stop resisting.”

The church has been investigated for other hate crimes in the past.

(Tipped by JMG readers Rob and Matthew)