Mega-Church Pastor Says Media 'Exaggerating' Attack on Teen Daughter
Credit: Fayette County Sheriff's Office
Megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar took to the pulpit in front of a packed house on Sunday to deny punching and choking his 15-year-old daughter, calling the accusations "an exaggeration and sensationalism."
Dollar was arrested on Friday after the teen told police that he roughed her up and beat her with a shoe during an argument over whether she was allowed to go to a party, police said.
The Atlanta-based preacher's other daughter, Alexandria, 19, backed her sister's story, and cops noted the teen had red marks on her neck, signs of an apparent dust-up.
Dollar was charged with battery and cruelty to children.
He struck down the charges during a sermon at his World Changers Church International, his suburban Atlanta-based church that boasts 30,000 members and a host of satellite ministries across the U.S.
"I will say this emphatically: I should have never been arrested," he said, after receiving an exuberant welcome from the faithful at his 8,500-seat santuary, known as the World Dome. "I want you all to hear personally from me that all is well in the Dollar household."
The 50-year-old televangelist denied choking his daughter, saying the scratches on the girl's neck were caused by the skin condition eczema, which she’s had for 10 years. "The truth is, she was not choked, she was not punched," he said. "Anything else is exaggeration and sensationalism."
The father of five has built a multimillion dollar religious empire since starting the church in an elementary school in his hometown of College Park, Ga., in 1986.
He runs a weekly radio broadcast and has published more than 30 books preaching the “prosperity theology” message, which says God rewards the faithful with vast wealth.
His ministry has drawn criticism from detractors who have raised questions his lavish lifestyle, including multimillion dollar homes in Atlanta and Manhattan, a private jet, two Rolls Royces other deluxe creature comforts.
On Sunday, he suggested that the media attention following his arrest was part of a plan to undercut his message, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. "The devil knows that in order to discredit the message, you have to first of all discredit the messenger," Dollar told his congregation.
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