May 25, 2005

Dead Woman Accuses Church Of Sexual Abuse In Documents


POSTED: 6:46 am EDT May 25, 2005

ASHTABULA, Ohio -- In this tight-knit northeast Ohio city, the death of Carolyn Clark on Mother's Day weekend was story enough: Police said her estranged husband beat her head with the stock of a rifle in front of the youngest five of their 13 children.

But then talk intensified as news spread about legal papers Carolyn Clark had filed in a custody dispute she won a few days before her death, accusing leaders of the couple's church of sexual and physical abuse against members, including children. Clark said she was trying to get her young children away from the church, which she accused of brainwashing her husband and older children.

Now prosecutors are investigating whether the Apostolic Church Body of Jesus Christ of the Newborn Assembly had any role in her death. Social service officials are looking into the abuse allegations.

"This murder happened, and it might have kicked over a rock and there's some sunlight shining down now," Ashtabula County Prosecutor Thomas L. Sartini said.

No charges have been filed against leaders of the country church.

Its bishop, Charles Keyes, has repeatedly declined to comment.

Clark's five adult children told The Star Beacon the church had nothing to do with her death. They said their mother had been abusive, beating them, burning them with a clothes iron and forcing them to eat vomit as punishment.

Posted by kshaw at May 25, 2005 07:43 AM