The World of Faith Fellowship Church has been the subject of considerable scrutiny for years after facing what seems like a neverending procession of abuse allegations. Now, New York Daily News reports that some ex-congregants are coming forward with truly horrific stories.
The AP is currently going through hundreds of pages of documents from law enforcement as part of an investigation into the cult-like organization. Reporters are also attempting to interview people who have managed to escape the clutches of this particular Christian denomination, but many are unwilling to discuss their experiences out of fear of retaliation, specifically from the group's allegedly tyrannical leader Jane Whaley.
Former members of the extreme religious group say that participants were regularly "punched, smacked, choked, slammed to the floor or thrown through walls" as part of the church's fanatical purification rituals. Children were often separated from their parents and subjected to repeated violence as a means of banishing demons and as discipline for misbehavior. Sexual abuse seems to be a factor as well, with Whaley refusing to call authorities about these internal problems.
"I saw so many people beaten over the years. Little kids punched in the face, called Satanists," said Katherine Fetachu, who was a member for 17 years.
"It wasn't enough to yell and scream at the devils. You literally had to beat the devils out of people," added Rick Cooper, a U.S. Navy veteran with more than 20 years of history with World of Faith.
Investigations also reveal complex cover-ups that have attempted to thwart inquiries into the Church. Tactics employed by World of Faith include "strongarming young victims and their parents to lie" and prohibiting members from seeking medical attention for injuries incurred during services. Members are now speaking out in the hopes of preventing further abuses.
"We were warned to keep the abuse to ourselves. If we didn't, we knew we would be targeted. ... You lived in total fear," said Liam Guy, who fled from the group after 25 years of involvement.
World of Faith has since put forth a statement on the accusations, denying all of them: "False allegations have been made against our church in the past. Investigations at several levels of government have been conducted. We have been exonerated at every point ... We remain hopeful that the public will see through these fabrications and see them for what they are."