06 Jun

Mistrial Declared in Trial of NC Minister Accused of Assaulting Gay Church Member

RUTHERFORDTON, N.C. (AP) – A judge cited a juror’s misbehavior and declared a mistrial in the case of a North Carolina church minister accused in the beating of a congregant who says he was attacked to expel his "homosexual demons."

The judge immediately held the juror in contempt on Tuesday and sentenced him to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for bringing in unspecified outside materials.

Brooke Covington, a longtime minister at Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina, had faced up to two years in prison if convicted on charges of kidnapping and assaulting former member Matthew Fenner in January 2013.

Covington, 58, was the first of five church members to face trial in the case. Each defendant will be tried separately.

Fenner, who is now 23, says he was slapped, punched, choked and screamed at for two hours as they tried to expel his "homosexual demons."

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