Flamboyant televangelist and pastor Creflo A. Dollar Jr., who heads the 30,000-member World Changers Church International, spent Friday morning in jail for allegedly assaulting his teenage daughter during an argument in his Atlanta home.
Dollar has been charged with simple battery, family violence and cruelty to children after apparently choking the 15-year-old and beating her with his shoe. According to the police report documenting the incident, Dollar had upset the girl by telling her she could not attend a Saturday night party.
When she then refused to talk to Dollar, he became enraged at her insolence and forcefully grabbed her by the collar, the report states.
“He charged her, and put his hands around her throat and began to choke her,” according to the girl’s account.
The 50-year-old author and megapastor also “slammed her to the ground and began to punch her and took his shoe off and started whooping her with it,” ultimately causing a telltale “superficial” scratch on the young girl’s neck, the report states.
Police say that story was later corroborated another day by another Dollar daughter.
Dollar has posted a $5,000 cash bond and, through his attorney, denied the allegations and claimed his daughter had attacked him.
“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,” Dollar said in a statement. “The facts in this case will be handled privately to further protect my children. My family thanks you for your prayers and continued support.”
In a sermon posted to YouTube just a day before the alleged assault, Dollar devalued corporal punishment as a learning tool.
“What’s best is not that you have to learn by getting your butt whooped all the time. What’s best is that you learn from obedience,” Dollar said in the sermon, before describing a bizarre story in which a virgin regrets having sex with an HIV-infected man.
Glory be to Jesus, Dollar added, he was “fired up” during that sermon.
Reactions to the incident included idle observations by academics and even outright declarations of support for Dollar, who was audited in 2007 by Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley for suspected misuse of funds.
“It’s very interesting when the preacher gets arrested for battery,” Anthea Butler, a religious studies professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Kansas City Star.
Others felt that Dollar, who has urged his congregation repeatedly to discipline — but never abuse —- children, had simply put his money where his mouth was.
“It’s just something that’s been blown out of proportion,” Randi Garrett, a longtime fan of Dollar’s, told the paper.
Dollar is also known for allegedly throwing big dollars at the local police force to make his traffic tickets go away, according to ABC News. That incident resulted in a county ethics board disciplining 100 officers.