Charges dismissed in Word of Faith trespassing case

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina attorney general has dismissed trespassing charges against a legislative candidate, a former candidate for sheriff and an ex-member of a secretive evangelical congregation.

WLOS-TV in Asheville reports officials in Rutherford County said Attorney General Josh Stein found no criminal misconduct on the part of state Senate candidate David Wheeler, former sheriff’s candidate Wayne Guffey and former Word of Faith Fellowship member John Huddle.

Wheeler told The Associated Press that Word of Faith Fellowship leader Jane Whaley invited him to visit the church, which has been accused of beating congregants to expel demons.

Wheeler’s attempt to meet with Whaley was livestreamed on Facebook. Video shows that when Wheeler walked inside, a church member asked what he was doing there. He said he had a meeting planned with Whaley.

At that point, longtime minister Jayne Caulder is seen in the video. When Wheeler asks if he could see Whaley, Caulder wouldn’t answer the question and repeatedly asks everyone to leave.

The next day, the three were charged with trespassing, based on complaints filed by Caulder.

Wheeler was charged with second-degree trespassing, along with Huddle, who left the church in 2008, and Guffey, a Word of Faith Fellowship critic who was defeated earlier this year in the Republican primary by the incumbent sheriff of Rutherford County.

Guffey had accused church officials of turning a blind eye to the abuse.

“Despite desperate intimidation attempts by Word of Faith Fellowship and Senator Ralph Hise, we are proud of our efforts,” Wheeler said in response to Stein’s decision. “Don’t forget we were invited on three separate times. We will continue to stand with other Word of Faith victims against such harassment and hold (Word of Faith Fellowship) accountable.”

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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