January 20, 2006

Ohio church at center of Portsmouth custody case

The Virginian-Pilot

By JOHN-HENRY DOUCETTE , The Virginian-Pilot
January 20, 2006

PORTSMOUTH — A judge on Thursday granted custody of five children to their father after hearing evidence that their mother belongs to an Ohio church whose fiery brand of faith has been called into question.

So great was the sway of the Jefferson , Ohio , congregation – led by a charismatic bishop – the children turned against their dad after moving to that community in 2004 , according to testimony.

Circuit Judge James A. Cales Jr. determined that evidence in the case, including a summary of abuse investigations involving church members, showed that the congregation is a dangerous place for children.

“Evil is the only word that comes to my mind,” he said.

Dorothy Butts , the mother, moved to Ohio to work at the church.

The children’s father, David W. Butts of Portsmouth , said he changed his mind about moving from Hampton Roads with his wife because he questioned the church’s teachings and the pastor, the Rev. Charles D. Keyes Sr .

Butts called the Apostolic Faith Church Body of Jesus Christ of the Newborn Assembly a cult.

Allegations about church members including the sexual abuse of women, mind control and physical abuse of children emerged. In several cases, children were removed from their homes and ordered to be kept away from the church, according to testimony by an Ohio caseworker.

Posted by kshaw at January 20, 2006 06:51 AM