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June 8th, 2012
12:22 PM ET

Police arrest Georgia megachurch pastor after disturbance at home

By John Murgatroyd and John Blake, CNN

Atlanta (CNN)– Megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar was arrested in suburban Atlanta for an alleged assault on his 15-year-old daughter, police said Friday.

Deputies in Georgia's Fayette County responded to a call about a domestic disturbance about 1 a.m. Friday. Dollar's daughter said she argued with her father over attending a party, said Investigator Brent Rowan of the Fayette County Sheriff's Office.

The daughter says the argument got physical.

She told the deputies that her father charged her, put his hands around her throat and began to choke her, according to a police report. She said he then slammed her to the ground, punched her and beat her with his shoe.

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Dollar's daughter was able to get away and dial 911, Rowan said.

Deputies noticed a scratch on the daughter's neck and arrested Dollar on charges of simple battery, family violence and child cruelty.

Deputies also spoke with another daughter, 19, who corroborated her sister's account of what happened.

Dollar was booked into the Fayette County jail early Friday. A judge set his bail at $5,000 during a morning hearing, and he was released.

Dollar said in a statement released to the media from his attorney, "As a father I love my children and I always have their best interest at heart at all times, and I would never use my hand to ever cause bodily harm to my children. The facts in this case will be handled privately to further protect my children. My family thanks you for your prayers and continued support."

Dollar is a senior pastor of World Changers Church International in suburban Atlanta, which claims about 30,000 members and has an $18 million sanctuary that resembles a golden-domed spaceship atop a hill.

He built an international religious empire, with broadcasts of his sermons beamed worldwide and speaking engagements in Europe.

A barrel-chested man who favors impeccably tailored pinstripe suits in the pulpit, Dollar preaches the Prosperity Gospel, a message that says God will bless faithful Christians with wealth and debt-free living.

Since he started his ministry in an elementary school cafeteria in 1986, Dollar has earned both praise and criticism.

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Supporters say he has preached a message that's financially empowered his parishioners and challenged the idea that Christians should be ashamed to be rich.

Critics call him "Cash-Flow Dollar," a pulpit prima donna who once refused to allow parishioners to touch him. They say his message perverts the Gospel.

Dollar has had brushes with the law before, according to a lengthy 2000 profile in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

He was once cited for contempt of court for refusing to give a deposition during the divorce proceedings of boxer Evander Holyfield, who attended his church, according to the AJC.

The AJC profile also said that 100 police officers were admonished for receiving $1,000 apiece from Dollar. Dollar sent the money to honor the officers' community service, but the act was criticized because it came a month after two traffic tickets Dollar received were downgraded to warnings, the profile said.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Crime

soundoff (3,399 Responses)
  1. Get Real

    {http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2012/06/megachurch-pastor-creflo-dollar-charged-with-attacking-his-daughter/1#.T9Ow4rBfF3U}

    June 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  2. mr. tiki

    Another "Reglious Whacko" Who is full of himself instead of his so called "GOD" Abuse is not ok no matter who you are!

    June 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Kathryn

      Do you even listen to his broadcasts? He is no flake or fake. I suggest you listen before you give an opinion.

      June 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • JWT

      He preaches about god – that would make him a fake in so many people's opinion.

      June 9, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      The love of money is the root of all evil. Dollar's message IS EVIL.

      June 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  3. Get Real

    USATODAY has the complete redacted police report, in which older daughter changed her story, stating that her Dad did nothing that would hurt her sister. And the fact that younger daughter was being very disrespectful. Also entire situation broke out because younger daughter had bad grades and so she was being disciplined because of them. Sound like disciplined rules the house, and yes it went too far. But a little strictness now or a lot of hurt later. Ah, the pain of parenting!

    June 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  4. PPJr

    That was God's will.

    June 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  5. GAW

    I would be curious to find out what Mr. Dollar preaches about this Sunday and what the response of his congregation will be. I'm sure he will still keep a following.....sad to say.

    June 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Blane

      Of all the reasons to not follow a megachurch preacher, this incident is not one of them.

      June 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Get Real

      General feeling will be....."Pastor ain't playing" and get their stuff together...especially the borderline kids!

      June 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  6. Get Real

    Partial transcript of the 911 call:

    911 Operator: What's going on there?

    Caller: I just got in an altercation with my father. He punched me and frightened me and choked me. Um, it's not the first time it's happened. I feel threatened by being in this house. Um, I don't know, I don't know what can be done but I'm scared, I'm shaking. I don't know what to do.

    911 Operator: Do you have any injuries? Do you need an ambulance?

    Caller: No, ma'am.

    911 Operator: What were you arguing about?

    Caller: He asked me, um. He asked me… It was a previous argument about me going to a party on Saturday. And he brought up grades and I started crying. So, I walked out of the room to the kitchen, to my sisters. I was by myself, it was just me and my sisters in the kitchen. And he followed behind me and asked me why I was crying? And I said I do not want to talk to you. And he went off. That's when he went off. He came and put his arm around my neck and choked me and bent me over the table. And I pushed him off of me and he threw me on the ground and punched me in my face.

    June 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  7. withoutgod

    To all of those who are defending the pastor/father: choking a child, throwing them to the ground, punching them and beating them with a shoe is not an appropriate parental response in any situation. If you think that it is, please, for the protection of civilization, seek psychiatric help.

    June 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Blane

      It's called discipline. Learn about it.

      June 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Blane: What he did was not discipline by the definition of the law, what he did was abuse his daughter. No-one has the right to lay a hand on another person in anger EVER. This is his child, not his property and I don't give a damn what she did that he thought was wrong, he had other options but he took the cowardly way out and instead of dealing with it as a man he beat his child. He should rot in prison and you should join him for agreeing with him...then the two of you can beat each other and get your cheap thrills of hurting another human that way.

      June 9, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • withoutgod

      SO Blane, when someone thinks that you, personally, are out of line, what methods of violence are considered standard in order to "discipline" you?

      June 9, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • what about justice

      accusation and arrest = guilt. no need for law, lawyers judges or courts. no accused is ent itled to due process. Why not lynch the pastor on hearsay.

      June 10, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Blane

      No, Blane, it isn't. You're sick.

      June 10, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  8. falseprophet

    Prosperity gospel is just a euphemism for religious pyramid scheme. The only way they can get people interested in religion is if they convince them it will make them rich. It's Amway with Bibles.

    June 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Get Real

      Feeding villages around the world, and setting up housing and orphanages is free!

      June 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  9. ivotedforkodos

    I don't know...just doesn't seem right to choke your own kid. Looks like all that worship hasn't resulted in a peaceful home...oh well, at least Cashflo has plenty of dough funneled off the hopes and heartbreaks of his followers.

    June 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Christian

      He is not running a church, it's a money making organization

      "Do as I say, not as I do" should be his motto

      June 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Blane

      Why are you taking the child's word over his? Could it not be that she is lying or at least exaggerating?

      June 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  10. TW

    OK! Just for a minute let us forget the fact that Mr. Dollar is a Mega-church pastor and view him as a loving and caring father who may possibly have saved his daughter's life. I mean who knows what kind of party was being thrown and for all we know and not knowing to Mr. Dollar's daughter she could have been "the party" if you get my drift. I have heard how a young group male teens put the message out that there is going to be a party at sos and so house to a single individual female teen unknowlingly to her she is the party.

    June 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • JWT

      Which has nothing to do with the topic at hand which is why would a man beat his daughter. Probably a result of being abused himself.

      June 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • TW

      JWT,

      Being an adult with a wealth of wisdom about teen parties, how far will you go to protect your daughter from an unforeseeable harm? I am in know way advocating child abuse but at times discipline is an absolute necessity if we really LOVE our children.

      June 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @TW –

      Please tell me if I'm wrong, but it sounds to me like the "discipline" to which you are referring is actually physical assault. If you misbehaved at work and your supervisor turned you over his knee and hit you with a belt, would you consider that necessary and loving correction? No, I think you would call the police, press charges, and then contact an attorney. How is it that the most defenseless members of society (children) deserve less protection than you?

      June 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Christian

      So, where is the love he preaches ? He is a hypocrite

      June 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • TW

      Really-Oh,

      You're off-point. Work-place violence and incidents involving personal matters at home differs. Again I am not advocating child abuse or physical violence towards any child. But let us be real about this unfortunate situation when it comes to disciplining children who have gone awry. There has to be some form of correction or the child will become even more intolerable and cause not only harm to his or herself but to other family members as well.

      I AGREE with Rev. Dollar's physical non-contact of expression of love, admiration, and looking out for the best interest of his daughter BUT I totally DISAGREE with Mr. Dollars physical response and abusive contact towards his daughter.

      June 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • GAW

      There are many ways to discipline a child but choking them and knocking them to the floor and hitting them is not one of them.

      June 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • JWT

      Of course discipline is important. But we also need to listen to children sometimes they are right despite all that we adults think we know.

      June 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Discipline is NOT the same as physical punishment. Anyone who thinks so has personality issues.

      June 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  11. mork

    pfft Christians.

    June 9, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  12. fsmgroupie

    He that curseth his father, or mother, shall surely be put to death. –Exodus 21:17
    Read the bible christian teens and be afraid, be very afraid. Do your parents have the faith of Abraham? Do they love their Jesus more than they love you?

    June 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • appapo

      You are pathetic!!

      June 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Are you advocating "honor killing?" Or is your post total sarcasm?

      June 10, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  13. lily

    Which tv judge stated How do you know a teenager is lying? His lips are moving.

    June 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Thackerie

      Judge Judy was the one who made that ridiculous comment; I wouldn't want to base my opinions on someone who's made a career as a professional scold. I'd take the word of almost any teenager over that of a lying, scheming conman "preacher" any day.

      June 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  14. Dakota2000

    Why do so many people follow these false prophets (profits).

    If your religion is about retribution, damnation, fear, violence, then it is a false religion.

    Kindness is the only true religion and it can be spotted from a 100 miles away...

    June 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • ivotedforkodos

      I'm an atheist, but if I did have a need for religion, I think "Kindness" pretty well sums it up. Nicely put.

      June 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Christian

      Good point !

      He drives a Bentley

      His church is not a teaching bible based church, it is a money making organizaton

      June 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  15. BeenThere

    Seriously, the kids of today are well past their years and very very very disrespectful. Since NONE OF US was present during this incident, we would be best to reserve judgement. Afterall this great country affords us the right of being innocent until proven guilty. By the way, if my kids come home at 1am there will be major punishments to be had. Each child has a different way of being reached. I can talk to my daughter and let her know I am disappointed and she is in tears for days. My son responds to the loss of his xbox. I do have an associate whose daughter came home in the wee hours of the morning. Upon being confronted by her mother THE CHILD lunged at her which resulted in a mutual fight. Things are not always as they appear.

    June 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • JWT

      So you beat the or apporive of it cool thing to know.

      June 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Chuheee

      I agree...How do we know what went on...and given how teens respond to parental advice theses days...I agree with th pastor....If more kids were given discipline the WORLD would be a better place....

      June 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Christian

      He sure ain't teaching the love he preaches

      He is a bully from the pulpit

      June 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Kathryn

      It's a shock when your teen breaks out and is disrespectful and tries to humiliate your very authority. Today she's probably going to "Can I have the car?" Kids are a trip and I don't believe he beats his kids. This was a freak out- "You said What??"
      But now the sister says he wasn't hurting her. She may be spoiled and immature for the protection she's known. And she knew where to hurt him.
      Dad – it won't be the last time she flips the script. It's what they do now – try to humiliate. So grab hold. I used to get beat by my dad alot just for being there – so I don't like girls getting hit. There is just more on it that will be revealed.

      June 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      That child did not just suddenly turn from a sweet little girl to someone who "lunged' at her mom. What had mom done to raise the child with loving discipline? BTW, discipline refers to teaching proper behavior, not punishing.
      DISCIPLINE: "Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement." THE FREEDICTIONARY.COM

      June 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  16. Dan

    Not surprising at all for one of those people.

    June 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Chuheee

      By one of those people, do you mean a GOOD parent....

      June 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  17. Marquise

    Mr. Dollar is the same pastor that rallied behind Bishop Eddie Long who molested young teenage boy. As the Bible says beware of the leaven of the Pharisees they exploit the word of God for money and power. They use the word out of context to justify the oppression of women and children.

    June 9, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Kathryn

      No he did not. Dollar is by the book. If you listened to him you would know.

      June 9, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  18. TW

    Jenny,

    It's obvious that you as a child directly experienced first hand parental abuse which is why you have decided to lash out against any attempt to justify Mr. Dollar's actions towards his disobedient daughter. Was this an issue for you as well with your parents? It's true violence is not the answer and should never be but there has to be an understanding in one's home who's the adult and who's the child. Hypothecticaly, I would have given my daughter an option either you respect my decision and stay home or pack your suitcase on your way out the door and enjoy your frineds party.

    God Bless us all!

    June 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Jenny

      No parental violence. Why I've got a sound sense of what;s right and wrong! Someone needs to!

      June 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  19. Beam

    Never heard of him before.... At any rate my prayers go to his family over this situation...especially to the daughters. I pray he gets the help he needs and stops preaching this nonsense.

    June 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Chuheee

      Its evident you have know idea....You are taking a teens word over a parent...That in itself is a problem...He is a GOOD parent and a GOOD pastor....Sometimes things get out of hand, REGARDLESS who you are...People and Pastors are only human...I think he handled it rather well...Simple battery, I can respect that...The ONLY reason I'd let her stay is she's a minor, other thanthat she'd have to get out and fend for herself....

      June 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  20. Mikayah

    For persons who live in/by the dictates of Scripture, this is a sad development. The matter reveals a foundational family error which all with understanding will do well to learn from. This kind of incident should have been resolved by the elders or the lowliest of believers according to Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11: 31, 6: 1-6.

    June 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Kathryn

      Well, she called the police, not the elders of the church. So now you say their family foundation has a flaw. What a scribe you make. Apparently not a father of teens – and yes, you just read it in a media that was happy to report it – paraphrasing his sermons the whole way. Check him out before you form an opinion. He's a true teacher – one of the best in the world of broadcast ones.

      June 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Kathryn

      foundational family flaw... love that arrogance. 'Sad development' – pure arm chair theologian family therapist with x ray vision and time travel to report back on your take of the foundation of Creflo Dollar's family. Try
      1 corinthians 13.

      June 9, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.