Fenner Case takes a turn… July 17th next court date

moon plant
moon plant

As I sit here surveying the latest round of Motions and Orders in the Matthew Fenner case, I can’t help but wonder where the road will lead us. Where will this path that began in 1979 by Sam and Jane Whaley take us as a community and as a group of survivors, where will it end? Will it ever end? Will the destructive dynamics set in motion so many years ago, which have been allowed to strengthen and fester in a small community in Western North Carolina ever come to a conclusion? Does the winding journey have a happy ending for anyone?

This journey begun with possibly good intentions includes people from several countries and many members hailing from various parts of the United States. On this day when we are to celebrate the freedom afforded us by our Constitution and upheld by our strength as a nation; we are experiencing and witnessing a court case unfold which includes allegations of intimidation and fear, along with testimonies and evidence which any sane person would agree do not signify a healthy religious environment.

A survey of the history of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) includes episodes of religious abuse, political and community scandal, physical and emotional abuse, financial doubts and many court cases full of legal wrangling. A journey of over thirty years has touched so many lives in on several continents in such negative ways. I do not believe what we see as the practices included in the WOFF subculture were ones our forefathers intended to protect when they declared “freedom of religion.”

For reasons which could be debated for months or years, the leader of WOFF has gone down a dark and foreboding path. She has traveled her own direction subjected to her own weaknesses and personal flaws while disdaining outside help or input. In addition, she has a core crew of enablers. This combination has caused the maturation of this group to include verbal abuse, intimidation, fear, physical altercations and a steady diet of propaganda in order to reach its goals and support the her demands.

And now, what do we know?

Matthew Fenner alleges on January 27, 2013, he was held against his will while being assaulted during a deliverance session in the sanctuary of WOFF. In January 2015, five individuals were indicted over these charges. Those individuals include Brooke Covington, Justin Covington, Sarah Covington, Robert Louis Walker, Jr. and Adam Bartley. After many months of pre-trial motions, appeals and delay, the first trial of the State versus Brooke Covington ended in a mistrial based on a jury foreman introducing unauthorized documents into the jury room. After declaring a mistrial, Judge Gary Gavenus placed a gag order on anyone tied to the case including the jury, court officials, attorneys representing any of the five defendants and those on the “State and Defendant Witness List.” (53 names at last count)

Recap of recent events:

June 21, 2017- The Associated Press and Charlotte Observer filed a motion to lift the gag order in this case. They are seeking among other things access to the jurors.

June 26, 2017- The Associated Press releases detailed review of Matthew Fenner’s struggle to have his voice heard and justice be done. Contained in the article were a series of secretly made recordings which included Rutherford County Sheriff Chris Francis and Jill Rose of the U.S. Attorney’s office. Former District Attorney Brad Greenway is quoted in the article.

July 1, 2017- Rccatalyst.com reports Brooke Covington’s defense attorney David Teddy filed motion on June 30th for Matthew Fenner to produce the recordings and the devices which made the recordings. Hearing set for July 17th.

July 2, 2017- Rccatalyst.com again reports Assistant District Attorney Garland Byers filed a motion for a lift of the gag order over the jurors. This motion is to allow investigators to interview jurors about the unauthorized documents introduced by jury foreman, Perry Shade.

July 3, 2107- Attorney David Teddy files Amended Motion dated June 30th which outlines his contention that his client and the State deserve to know what recordings Matthew Fenner may have now or any made pertaining to the events which led to Brooke’s indictment. The Motion specifically lists the AP article as a reason for granting the Motion.

Amended Motion by Teddy

The date for the next hearing on the lift of the gag order and the Motion for Matthew to produce any recordings is July 17th starting at 9:30AM. The Honorable Judge Marvin Jesse Caldwell is scheduled to hear the motions.

In order to bring this present court drama into perspective, let’s revisit the testimony of State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) Special Agent Tim Shook during the first trial. The testimony which was eventually barred from the jury included information from an incident about WOFF practices during 1988. This incident involved a lady being restrained to a bed for about 13 days in order for her go through deliverance. The SBI investigation of 1995 contained this information. Eventually then District Attorney Jeff Hunt decided to not go forward with the investigation.

My point? Questionable WOFF practices have been a subject of investigation by authorities for longer than I estimate 24 people on the State and Defendant Witness list have been alive. Many inside WOFF have no idea how long others have battled to break free from the damages from the injurious practices which are being inflicted on them – daily.

Where does it end? What if any positive outcome will be from the road traveled by Jane Whaley and her leadership? Yes, I have seen many of the videos on the WOFF website. Am I impressed? Does a four minute video erase the years of damage and the long list of injured members- former and present? How can decades of abuse to hundreds of people in this country and overseas be erased or made right? The WOFF conundrum continues.

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Thank you, for taking time to visit and read this blog. Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. The author is not a licensed mental health professional and encourages those that need professional help to seek it. The intent of the material is to inform and be a resource. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. There are readers at WOFF. Jane told me and Josh confirmed it.

Comments are invited from all readers, including present or former members. Polls are not scientific and no private information is gathered.

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Scripture references are Amplified Version unless otherwise noted.

(Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation ) This is post number 608.

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4 thoughts on “Fenner Case takes a turn… July 17th next court date”

  1. I must add that there are Far More former members with similar stories who are still afraid to speak Their stories, I know of 3 personally, of whom I talk to weekly. WHATS IT GONNA TAKE??? I want to HELP my friends!!!

  2. Well here we go again!! The WOFF saga goes on!! How long is God going to allow these people in the name of God go on?? I don’t know I do know we have a merciful God for that I’m grateful! But I also know God says vengeance is mine I will repay!! Although it surely does appear that God’s judgment is being withheld. And it seems that our officials keep shutting their eyes to the evident. And to those of us who have been victims of this religious CULT abuse it seems it never ends!! It just continues to go on!! How many more lives have to be destroyed before this religious abuse ends?? I truly don’t know but this one thing I’m sure of is justice will be done eventually ! I only pray we don’t have another Jim Jones event!! God has been merciful to me and my family and we escaped, but not untouched!! We still have issues of mistrust of even the most dedicated Christians! I urge all of you to read John Huddle’s book it is a TRUE description of WOFF!! And please please urge our officials to see that justice is truly done!!

  3. Thank you for how well you document all of this. You are a key component in helping to keep WOFF in the spotlight so that they can no longer sweep their crimes under the rug.

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