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Reformatory CP - July 2002

Yahoo! News/Associated Press, 10 July 2002

Texas pastor, brother charged with severely beating boy for cheating in Bible study

By Jim Vertuno
Associated Press Writer

AUSTIN, Texas - A church pastor and his twin brother have been charged with severely beating an 11-year-old boy with a stick as punishment for cheating during his Bible studies.

According to police, the 22-year-old pastor beat Louie Guerrero for an hour on July 3 while the brother held him down, at one point allowing the boy a bathroom break.

The boy remained hospitalized Tuesday, where a nurse told investigators that his kidneys had failed and that he required a blood transfusion. The family's attorney, Bobby Taylor, said the boy was in fair condition.

Joshua Thompson, pastor at Capitol City Baptist Church, and his brother Caleb turned themselves in to police Tuesday. Both men are charged with felony injury to a child, punishable by up to life in prison.

Detective Douglas Havens said the boy told police that Joshua Thompson, who runs services for the church's Spanish-speaking members, accused him of cheating on memorized Bible verses.

Havens said the boy told police that in the past he had been spanked or forced to maintain a push-up position for an extended period, and that he has seen other children physically disciplined.

Taylor said others members have called him alleging abuses and that he advised them to call police. He also accused the church of teaching physical punishment as part of its doctrine.

"These people thought this is the way it's supposed to be because that's what they were taught," Taylor said.

Jerald Finney, the men's attorney, said the church has a strict policy against corporal punishment.

The brothers' father, Hank Thompson, is pastor of the church and leads the main congregation of about 300 members. Calls to his home and the church, which describes itself as "independent fundamental," went unanswered Tuesday.

Thompson told News 8 Austin that he believes his sons were trying to discipline the boy, but he doesn't think they alone caused the injuries.

"My son would've used a thin switch, that I'm positive of," he told the television station. He added: "My policy would've never been on the back like that ever. It would've been on the bottom."

Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

News 8, Austin, Texas, 14 July 2002

Former church member speaks in support of Capitol City Baptist

By Jitin Hingorani

After the arrest of two pastors accused of beating an 11-year-old boy last week, former church members of Capitol City Baptist Church are speaking out both against and in favor of church practices.

Last week, News 8 Austin spoke with one former church member who said she was given a book and a paddle to discipline her children.

On Sunday, Stephanie Williams, another former member of the church, said no such tools were ever given to her family. She said the church encourages the discipline of children, but only at the hands of their parents.

In her 15 years at Capitol City Baptist Church, Williams doesn't recall a single incident of corporal punishment by a church member.

"The teachings of Pastor Thompson and the church has always been consistent with the Bible. Consistent with the word of God, and I can honestly say that in all of years of being there, I've never been beaten, and I've never been abused," she said.

Williams was involved in many church activities growing up. In fact, she was even part of "Olympic Summer." That program's beliefs fell under a national spotlight last week when an 11-year-old boy's parents claimed Joshua and Caleb Thompson beat their son with a tree branch for cheating on a Bible exam.

"The first word that comes to mind when I think of both of them (Joshua and Caleb Thompson) is compassion. I would trust them with my life. I would trust them with my daughter's life. She's one year old, and I would trust them with her life, and I believe that with all of my heart," said Williams.

Williams said Pastor Hank Thompson, the father of Joshua and Caleb Thompson, preached a hands-off policy at the church.

"I, myself taught Sunday School there for six years, and we were always advised never to lay a hand on a child in the church. We never did. It was always done by the parents," said Williams.

Her plea to others: don't judge until you know.

"I just wish people will give it some time and wait for the truth to come out before they make judgements based on the little bit of information they have. Just let the whole story be known," she said.

Williams left the church about four years ago when she got married. She decided to start attending her husband's church in Lockhart.

Joshua Thompson was teaching at a Spanish-language sub-chapter of the church.

He and Caleb Thompson are charged with injury to a child. They are out on $25,000 bond each.

A trial date has not been set.

Copyright 2002 TWEAN d.b.a. News 8 Austin

blob Follow-up: 12 December 2003 - Corporal punishment not the norm at parochial schools

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