State asks for more time in Word of Faith trial after new allega - FOX Carolina 21

State asks for more time in Word of Faith trial after new allegations surface

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Screen shot of the Word of Faith Fellowship church from AP video (Courtesy: AP) Screen shot of the Word of Faith Fellowship church from AP video (Courtesy: AP)
Brooke Covington leaves hearing at Ruftherford County Courthouse (Source: Associated Press) Brooke Covington leaves hearing at Ruftherford County Courthouse (Source: Associated Press)
SPINDALE, NC (FOX Carolina) -

The State has requested a continuance in the trial against four members of a western North Carolina church after new allegations surfaced in 2017.

Five members the Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale were indicted in 2014 after Matthew Fenner came forward and said he was "blasted," strangled, slapped and held against his will by the church for being gay.

Church leader Brooke Covington along with Sarah Covington Anderson, Adam Christopher Bartley, Robert Louis Walker Jr. and Justin Brock Covington were indicted by a grand jury on charges of assault and kidnapping.

The cases against Anderson, Bartley, Walker and Justin Covington were moved to Buncombe County after a mistrial was declared in the case earlier in the year when a jury foreman was accused of conducting his own investigation into the case.

Brooke Covington's case remains in Rutherford County court.

On Dec. 20, District Attorney Ted Bell submitted a motion to continue the cases against the four co-defendants in Buncombe County due to "numerous allegations of additional criminal activity by members of the Word of Faith Fellowship came to light beginning in early 2017 via media reports, personal statements and through testimony."

The allegations include a claim that witnesses and co-defendants had been coached to provide false testimony.

Investigations were launched into the claims and, since they are still ongoing, the District Attorney is awaiting reports from both state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Bell requests the trial be moved back until after the State has received relevant information related to these allegations.

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