Megachurch Pastor Accused of Assaulting Daughter
From John Murgatroyd and John Blake, CNN
ATLANTA (CNN) — Megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar was arrested in suburban Atlanta for an alleged assault on his 15-year-old daughter, police said Friday.
Deputies in Georgia’s Fayette County responded to a call about a domestic disturbance about 1 a.m. Friday. Dollar’s daughter said she argued with her father over attending a party, said Investigator Brent Rowan of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office.
The daughter says the argument got physical.
She told the deputies that her father charged her, put his hands around her throat and began to choke her, according to a police report. She said he then slammed her to the ground, punched her and beat her with his shoe.
Dollar’s daughter was able to get away and dial 911, Rowan said.
Deputies noticed a scratch on the daughter’s neck and arrested Dollar on charges of simple battery, family violence and child cruelty.
Deputies also spoke with another daughter, 19, who corroborated her sister’s account of what happened.
Dollar was booked into the Fayette County jail early Friday. A judge set his bail at $5,000 during a morning hearing, and he was released.
Dollar said in a statement from his attorney, “As a father I love my children and I always have their best interest at heart at all times, and I would never use my hand to ever cause bodily harm to my children. The facts in this case will be handled privately to further protect my children. My family thanks you for your prayers and continued support.”
He is a senior pastor of World Changers Church International in suburban Atlanta, which claims about 30,000 members and has an $18 million sanctuary that resembles a golden-domed spaceship atop a hill.
He built an international religious empire, with broadcasts of his sermons beamed worldwide and speaking engagements in Europe.
A barrel-chested man who favors impeccably tailored pinstripe suits in the pulpit, Dollar preaches the Prosperity Gospel, a message that says God will bless faithful Christians with wealth and debt-free living.
Since he started his ministry in an elementary school cafeteria in 1986, Dollar has earned both praise and criticism.
Supporters say he has preached a message that’s financially empowered his parishioners and challenged the idea that Christians should be ashamed to be rich.
Critics call him “Cash-Flow Dollar,” a pulpit prima donna who once refused to allow parishioners to touch him. They say his message perverts the Gospel.
Dollar has had brushes with the law before, according to a lengthy 2000 profile in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
He was once cited for contempt of court for refusing to give a deposition during the divorce proceedings of boxer Evander Holyfield, who attended his church, according to the AJC.
The AJC profile also said that 100 police officers were admonished for receiving $1,000 apiece from Dollar. Dollar sent the money to honor the officers’ community service, but the act was criticized because it came a month after two traffic tickets Dollar received were downgraded to warnings, the profile said.