Prosecutors in AP report on church abuse no longer employed

Source: Associated Press

By ALEX SANZ and MITCH WEISS

SPINDALE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina district attorney says two assistant prosecutors no longer work for him amid charges they sabotaged investigations into abuse in their secretive religious sect.

District Attorney David Learner’s Friday announcement came just two days after he asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into allegations by former Word of Faith Fellowship members against Frank Webster and Chris Back. As part of an ongoing investigation by The Associated Press, nine ex-congregants had said the men, both of them ministers of the sect, provided legal advice, helped at strategy sessions and participated in a mock trial for four congregants charged with harassing a former member.

“I cannot allow the integrity of the office to be called into question,” Learner said in a statement. “My administration is dedicated to the fair and impartial administration of criminal justice.”

The ex-congregants also said that Back and Webster, who is sect leader Jane Whaley’s son-in-law, helped disrupt a social services investigation into child abuse in 2015, and had attended meetings where Whaley warned congregants to lie to investigators about abuse incidents.

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