SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - A Texas pastor and a colleague have been charged with tying a 15-year-old girl to a van and dragging her along the ground after she refused to continue an exercise run at a Christian “boot camp,” police said on Sunday.
Charles Flowers, senior pastor at the Faith Outreach Center, an evangelical church in the San Antonio suburb of Schertz, was arrested on Friday along with the camp counselor, Stephanie Bassitt, the Nueces County Sheriff’s department said in a statement.
The alleged incident took place in June and was reported to police by the mother of the girl, who was hospitalized for unspecified injuries.
According to a copy of the arrest affidavit obtained by Reuters, the girl was participating in a running exercise at the military style “Love Demonstrated Ministries” camp near Corpus Christi when she tired and refused to continue.
It says Bassitt pinned the girl down while Flowers tied a rope around her, tied the other end to the bumper of a van, and dragged her on her stomach “several times.”
The camp’s Web site, where Flowers refers to himself as the “commandant,” says it “strives to prepare young men and women to positively impact their world with the principles of Christ as their foundation” and is “designed to build character and instill discipline, integrity, unity, and morality back into their lives.”
The camp, which is operated in both Bexar and Nueces Counties, is aimed at teens with drug, alcohol, and other problems. Some teens are referred to the camp by courts.
Neither Flowers nor the church responded to requests for comment.
Organisers of an evangelical summer camp for children featured in the documentary “Jesus Camp” said late last year they were closing the camp because of negative reaction sparked by the film and vandalism at the camp site in North Dakota.
At that camp, children spoke in tongues and were urged to become Christian warriors and campaign against abortion.