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   Author  Topic: The Joys of Faith  (Read 891 times)

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The Joys of Faith
« on: 2003-08-26 05:40:54 »
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An autistic eight-year-old boy has died during a prayer service held to supposedly cure him of the evil spirits blamed for causing his condition..

Torrance Cantrell was wrapped in sheets and held by his hands and feet while members of the Faith Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith in the city of Milwaukee prayed over him.

This procedure had been taking place three times a week. However, on Friday those involved in the ceremony - including his mother - noticed the boy had stopped breathing.

Paramedics were called to the scene but were unable to revive him.

The brother of the church's pastor, Ray Hemphill, who was also present at the ceremony, was arrested shortly after the incident on suspicion of physically abusing a child, local police said.

"[We] didn't do nothing wrong," the pastor, David Hemphill, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper.

"We did what the Book of Matthew said... all we did is ask God to deliver him."

Autism causes children to have severe problems relating to, and communicating with, people around them.

In interviews with local newspapers, neighbours of the Cantrell family alleged that Torrance hated being touched and said that having people restrain him would likely have caused him a great deal of stress.

However, David Hemphill said that the boy had been wrapped in sheets and had his shoes removed in order to prevent him from being hurt.

"We were asking God to take this spirit that was tormenting this little boy to death," Mr Hemphill said.

"We were praying that hard, but not to kill."
« Last Edit: 2003-08-26 05:41:49 by Kharin » Report to moderator   Logged

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Re:The Joys of Faith
« Reply #1 on: 2003-08-26 05:55:23 »
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Jessica McBride of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

From the Aug. 26, 2003 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Boy's death ruled homicide
Church elder sat on child's chest, police say; charges uncertain


Last Updated: Aug. 25, 2003

The 8-year-old autistic boy who died during a weekend prayer service suffocated after a church elder sat on his chest, police said Monday. The Milwaukee County medical examiner's office has ruled the death a homicide.

But prosecutors Monday said state laws about religious healing practices are complicating decisions about whether to charge the man accused of being involved. Though police say the elder told them he sat on the boy's chest, a woman who participated in the fatal prayer session said he had only lain across it.

Terrance Cottrell Jr. died Friday night at the Faith Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith on Milwaukee's northwest side. The cause was "mechanical asphyxia due to external chest compression," according to the medical examiner's office.

Church leaders and a neighbor had identified the boy as Torrance Cantrell over the weekend, when police would not confirm his identity. Monday, the boy's father and the medical examiner provided the corrected spelling of his name.

A high-ranking Milwaukee police source said Ray Hemphill told investigators that he would sit on the boy's chest for up to two hours at a time during prayer services at the small storefront church at 8709 W. Fond du Lac Ave. The nightly prayer services started three weeks ago, police say Hemphill told them.

According to the jail records, Hemphill, who was arrested Saturday, weighs 157 pounds. The boy's weight was unknown.

Hemphill, 45, is being held on suspicion of physical abuse of a child, a felony. Milwaukee police Capt. Nan Hegerty said Monday that she does not expect anyone else to be arrested in the case.

Three women - including Terrance's mother, Patricia Cooper - sat on the boy's arms and legs while Hemphill tried to remove the "evil spirits" from him, said Hemphill's brother, David Hemphill, the pastor of the church where the service took place.

Tamara Tolefree of Milwaukee said Monday she held Terrance's leg during the prayer. After at least two other physically intense sessions like the one Friday, Tolefree said, Ray Hemphill decided to devote his entire vacation from his job as a janitor to "getting that spirit out of" the boy, who was also called "Junior."

Friday "was to be our last and final time trying that kind of prayer," Tolefree said.

When Tolefree picked them up Friday, she said, Terrance seemed different.

Instead of hopping into the back seat and rocking back and forth like usual, entertaining himself with his pillow, Terrance was uncharacteristically stoic, recalled Tolefree.

"He just sat still and stared straight ahead, and I was very concerned," Tolefree said. But she said Cooper insisted on proceeding as planned, saying that Terrance was "just sleepy from a nap" an hour or so before.

She said while she held one leg, Cooper held the other. A third woman held Terrance's left arm. Tolefree demonstrated on a reporter how Ray Hemphill held the boy's head with his right hand and the boy's right hand with his left as he lay across the boy's chest.

As the session went on, the third woman pressed her hands onto Terrance's abdomen, and Hemphill would periodically take his body weight off Terrance to "check Junior's face to see if the prayer was working," Tolefree said.

After more than an hour of restraining Terrance and praying for him, Tolefree said, the group saw the boy had shut his eyes and slowed his breathing. Ray Hemphill then "took control" of the situation and attempted to revive the boy, she said. Paramedics were called but could not save Terrance.

Tolefree said she has not been interviewed by law enforcement authorities.

Prosecutors reviewing

District Attorney E. Michael McCann said Monday he and other prosecutors met with Medical Examiner Jeffrey Jentzen to review the case.

The fact that Terrance died during what the participants called a prayer service adds legal complications, McCann said.

"The statutes have usually arisen in the context of non-treatment where simply prayer was used," McCann said.

Wisconsin law makes it a felony to intentionally cause bodily harm to a child. But a subsection reads: "TREATMENT THROUGH PRAYER. A person is not guilty of an offense under this section solely because he or she provides a child with treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone for healing in accordance with the religious method of healing permitted" under other statutes "in lieu of medical or surgical treatment."

The allegations of physical restraint are the legal wrinkle, McCann said. David Hemphill has said sheets were used to help control the boy during the healing.

Another section reads that a determination of abuse or neglect "may not be based solely on the fact that the child's parent, guardian or legal custodian in good faith selects and relies on prayer or other religious means for treatment of disease or for remedial care of the child."

Terrance's father, Terrance Cottrell Sr., said Monday that he wants everyone involved in his son's death to be held responsible.

"The way they performed, whatever the traditional way it was, it was just a way to kill somebody," he said.

Terrance Cottrell Sr., 33, had not seen his son for about two months, he said, but didn't see the boy often because he didn't get along with his son's mother.

"She's not a bad person," Cottrell said. "But she's gullible."

Mother not commenting

Cooper could not be reached for comment Monday. The makeshift vigil to her son remained in the window of her house in the 5900 block of N. 61st St.

David and Pamela Hemphill released "A letter of condolences" to the boy's family and the public.

"Terrance's death is a great tragedy," the letter states. "However, it was not a malicious act on the part of the church. If you believe in God and his word you have the right to believe he can help you, through prayer."

Boy Dies
at Church

Undated family photo
Terrance Cottrell Jr. died during a prayer session Friday night.
Ray Hemphill, sat on the chest of Terrance Cottrell Jr., 8, during a prayer service Friday for the autistic boy, police say. Terrance suffocated, according to the medical examiner's office.
Photo/Rick Wood*
Terrance Cottrell Sr. talks Monday at his north side home. He wants everyone involved in the death of his 8-year-old son, Terrance, during a prayer service to be held responsible.

Recent Coverage
'Nothing wrong': Pastor says service was in accordance with Bible (8/24/03)
Minister arrested: Leaders were trying to heal boy, pastor says (8/23/03)

*Rick Woods: rwood@journalsentinel.com
« Last Edit: 2003-08-26 07:09:14 by Tywick » Report to moderator   Logged


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Re:The Joys of Faith
« Reply #2 on: 2003-08-26 06:10:46 »
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Corissa Jansen, of the Journal Sentinel staff, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

From the Aug. 25, 2003 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Church expects clearance in death
Pastor says service was in accordance with Bible


Last Updated: Aug. 25, 2003

Members of a small church where an 8-year-old autistic boy died during a prayer session gathered Sunday at the home of their pastor, who said he was confident no church members or staff would be charged in the case.

"Didn't do nothing wrong," David Hemphill said outside his home Sunday afternoon, with the sounds of yelling and moaning from his gathered flock plainly audible from his front steps. "We did what the Book of Matthew said, Chapter 12. All we did is ask God to deliver him."

Police arrested Ray Hemphill, the pastor's brother, at the church - Faith Temple Church of Apostolic Faith, 8709 N. Fond du Lac Ave. - after paramedics were unable to revive Torrance Cantrell on Friday night. Torrance's mother, Patricia Cooper, held the boy's feet and two other women held the boy's hands during the hourlong prayer session, said Pamela Hemphill, David Hemphill's wife.

Ray Hemphill, 45, and also a minister at the church, was still being held in the Milwaukee County Jail, pending a decision on charges, officials said. No other arrests had been made. Police maintained a non-disclosure order Sunday on the medical examiner's report into the boy's death.

David Hemphill said Sunday that the boy's hands had been covered with sheets to prevent him from further scratching himself. The participants did not use force, he said, demonstrating by putting his hand gently on a reporter's shoulder.

Hemphill said he understands that police must investigate the incident and that if his child had died in such a manner, he would hope for an investigation. But he believes no one will, or should, be punished for Torrance's death.

He also said the child's death would not change the way the church operates, saying: "How you going to change the Bible?"

The boy had a spirit in him, the pastor said. Asked how he knew that, he said: "I'm 62 years old, and I can tell a person that's not normal."

When asked whether the spirit could simply be the boy's autism, Hemphill said: "He had a lot of problems."

Hemphill has said he was not at the service Friday but came to the church after people there called to tell him and his wife, Pamela Hemphill, that the boy was not breathing and 911 had been called.

Cooper, the boy's mother, returned to her home Sunday afternoon, but women with her refused to allow a reporter to speak with her.

"There's nothing to talk about," one woman shouted. She refused to give her name.

Neighbors on Sunday had put together a small memorial to the boy known as "Junior."

Several candles, a teddy bear and a stuffed bunny lined a windowsill at the duplex where the boy lived with his mother and younger sister.

Neighbors contend that Cooper underwent a change after she became involved with the church.

Before Cooper joined the church three months ago, her two children were always clean and dressed nicely, according to neighbors Gloria Lloyd and Denise Allison.

After Cooper became involved at the church, the children would often have messy hair and mismatched clothing, and sometimes Torrance would walk outside with two different shoes on or no shoes at all, they said Sunday.

Both Lloyd and Allison said Torrance hated being touched, and having people restrain him would likely have caused him a great deal of stress.

Though autism can manifest itself in a wide variety of behaviors and combinations of symptoms, those who have the complex developmental disorder may exhibit a range of characteristics such as apparent over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to pain.

With autism, the senses are not integrated so that senses of touch, smell and taste work together to help people understand experiences, according to the Bethesda, Md.-based Autism Society of America.

Church members did not meet at the facility for Sunday services, but instead met at the Hemphill home. "We wanted all our family together," Hemphill said.

In 1998, the district attorney's office looked into allegations of child abuse after a 12-year-old girl claimed to be beaten during one of the church's service. At the time, Hemphill claimed the beating was not as severe as the police alleged and that congregation members were only doing as the Bible teaches. No charges were filed.

Boy Dies at Church

Undated family photo
Torrance Cantrell died during a prayer session Friday night.

Ray Hemphill, a minister at Faith Temple Church of Apostolic Faith, was arrested but has not been charged in the boy's death.

Recent Coverage
'Nothing wrong': Pastor says service was in accordance with Bible (8/24/03)
Minister arrested: Leaders were trying to heal boy, pastor says (8/23/03)
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Re:The Joys of Faith
« Reply #3 on: 2003-08-26 06:15:16 »
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From the Aug. 24, 2003 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Leaders were trying to heal boy, pastor says
Church minister arrested after an 8-year-old stops breathing, dies during a prayer service


Last Updated: Aug. 23, 2003

A pastor said Saturday that church leaders were trying to heal an autistic 8-year-old boy when he inexplicably stopped breathing and died during a prayer service Friday night.

During the hourlong session, the boy's feet and hands were restrained by his mother and other church members who prayed intensely for his violent tendencies to cease, the pastor's wife said.

"He just passed away," Pastor David Hemphill said of the boy. "God is a mysterious person, and if he wants to call a life back, he does."

Milwaukee police officers arrested a man Friday night at Faith Temple Church of Apostolic Faith, 8709 N. Fond du Lac Ave., a small storefront in a strip mall that houses Gianelli's Pizza and a dry cleaner.

Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Kim Brooks confirmed Saturday night that Ray Hemphill, the pastor's brother and also a minister at the church, was being held at the Milwaukee County Jail on suspicion of physical abuse of a child, a felony.

The medical examiner's office declined to release results of an autopsy done on the boy, Torrance Cantrell, citing a police request for non-disclosure.

Denise Allison, 25, said she had become close friends with the boy and his mother, Patricia Cooper, during two years living in the duplex above the family in the 5900 block of N. 61st St.

Allison said Torrance, called "Junior" by family and friends, was brilliant with his hands, and could craft complex kites from newspaper. Though hardly able to speak, Torrance would knock on her door and shout with a smile, "Tickle," asking Allison to play with and tickle him.

The boy often initiated play or communication by punching at people and laughing, though neighborhood kids had learned to not feel threatened, Allison said.

"He was really fun to be around, but you had to relax, get to know him and understand his ways," Allison said. "He just wanted love and attention like any other kid."

Previous investigation

Milwaukee Police Capt. Linda Haynes said there was "no striking or anything like that," when asked whether Torrance had been disciplined during the prayer service, but said police were still investigating.

"Circumstances are suspicious because most 8-year-olds don't just die. Unless there's a medical condition - which we're unaware of at this time."

Haynes added that the boy "did not die of natural causes."

No officials would say if they thought the use of restraints was related to the boy's death, or to Ray Hemphill's arrest.

David Hemphill and his church were investigated in 1998 after a mother struck her 12-year-old daughter with a stick during a church service. The girl suffered bruises and cuts.

No charges were filed after authorities talked to the mother and Hemphill, who both defended the physical discipline as necessary for the unruly girl.

David and Pamela Hemphill said that they did not attend Friday's service, but rushed to church after people there called to tell them the boy was not breathing and 911 had been called.

The Hemphills said they talked to the four people who had been at the service: Ray Hemphill, Patricia Cooper and two women they would not name.

Pamela Hemphill said Ray Hemphill led the service and directed the women to restrain the boy.

The women put some sheets and cloth over the boy's outstretched hands, and "one lady held one hand and the other lady held the other, and his mother held his feet," Pamela Hemphill said.

The boy's leather sneakers were removed so he wouldn't hurt anyone if he kicked, she added.

The Hemphills said the boy's mother came to the church seeking help about three months ago and said her son was in danger of being institutionalized because he was violent toward himself and his 2-year-old sister.

"His mother couldn't get any rest, any sleep because he (her son) was just sick," David Hemphill said. "It had really gotten worse."

Praying for a miracle

Some church members began holding prayer sessions with the boy three times a week, he said.

"We were just trying to pray and see if God gave him a miracle," he said.

Pamela Hemphill said the sessions would usually last about two hours with a break halfway.

"Sometimes he kicks and scratches and throws himself to the ground," she said. "They hold his hand or maybe his feet and maybe take his shoes off."

But at Friday's session, she said, the boy was "unusually quiet."

"He seemed to be extremely tired," she said. "He just wiggled and moved a little but not as much as usual."

She said the boy was sitting on the floor with others sitting around him. But at one point he lay down and closed his eyes, she said.

"After they got through praying, one of the ladies said, 'He doesn't look too good today,' " David Hemphill said.

Ray Hemphill checked the boy's pulse and found none, she said. Paramedics arrived but couldn't revive the boy, she said, and pronounced him dead.

David Hemphill said he had no explanation for the sudden death, but said the boy was taking medications.

"I said, 'Well, God just took him,' " he said.

Hemphill said Cooper, who could not be reached Saturday, said " 'My baby's got rest now.' "

Radical change, exorcism talk

Allison and other neighbors said they'd seen radical changes in Cooper's behavior since she joined the church this spring. Once gregarious and energetic, the single mother getting by mostly on Social Security checks began to live in near-seclusion, appearing dazed, exhausted, and increasingly worried.

"They completely brainwashed Pat," Allison said Saturday evening.

She said a church member approached Cooper one day when she was struggling to control Torrance outside their home. The person told Cooper that if she brought her son to the church, he could be "spiritually healed."

Church members began to take Cooper and Torrance to the church in a van three and four times a day for prayer, Allison said. A woman and her daughter moved in with Cooper early this summer and recently moved out, she said. Other church members were in and out of Cooper's apartment, helping her clean and cook. Allison said Cooper told her that during prayer sessions - both at home and at church - church members would forcibly hold down Torrance and strike him in attempts to heal him of his autism.

Allison said Friday's session sounded like one Cooper told her about earlier in the summer.

"She called it an exorcism," Allison said. "She said they held him down for almost two hours. He couldn't hardly breathe, and that shocked (Cooper). Then she said the devil started to speak through Junior's voice - though he can't really speak - saying, 'Kill me. Take me.' "

Allison began to notice that each time the group gathered in the apartment, Torrance would screech, wail and cry. She and other neighbors noticed Torrance had a fattened lip and black eye the days after at-home prayer sessions, she said.

Once, Allison said, she looked through her friend's window and saw church members taking turns striking the boy with a belt as Cooper watched.

"I told Pat that it was wrong, but she said the Bible told her you're supposed to chastise your children," Allison said. "I told her to stop, told her what could a little . . . kid ever do that was so wrong to beat him like that? She said the church told her it was the only way to heal him."

Allison said she confronted her friend several more times about her concerns, but never contacted authorities because she thought she could counsel her friend away from the church without causing her legal problems.

Now, Allison said, she is filled with remorse that she didn't.

"All I can do now is tell what happened, and maybe this won't happen again to someone else," Allison said.
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More Joys of Faith
« Reply #4 on: 2003-08-26 06:38:15 »
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The Islamic department in the state capital has launched a campaign to rid the area of punk and skinhead culture after deciding they are un-Islamic.

Teenagers who sport Mohican haircuts may find themselves confronted with a pair of clippers and verses from the Koran.

Punks in the city of Kota Baru appear to have been undone by their patriotism.

A group of them asked for permission to hold a gathering as part of Malaysia's Independence Day celebrations.

Far from welcoming this show of national pride, the city's Islamic Development Department, or JPI, was moved to action.

Officers laid down a marker by detaining a 17-year old youth for looking excessively punky.

He was wearing torn clothes and had his head dyed red and cropped into a Mohican: here known as a "Trojan" haircut.

He was given a lecture by officials who offered him Koranic verses and told him to abandon his unhealthy lifestyle before shaving his head.

'Holding hands in public'

The JPI says it will be out in force for Independence Day on 31 August, to make sure local punks and skinheads stay at home.

Kelantan is governed by Malaysia's opposition Islamist party PAS.

A spokesman for the state's chief minister says that the party is not against all Western styles but that authorities are concerned to prevent any possible gang rivalries from developing.

There have been a number of cases in Malaysia recently where government ministers have criticised council officials for the manner in which they have enforced morality by laws.

Officers in Kuala Lumpur and the northern city of Ipoh were told that they had overstepped the mark after trying to fine couples for holding hands in public.

Small-town mentality

Two years ago it wasn't punks but fans of "black metal" who found themselves out of favour with the authorities.

Then the government backed action by the authorities in the northern state of Kedah.

There the religious affairs committee proposed to medicate rockers they accused of practising Satanism, carrying out animal sacrifices and defiling the Koran with drugs used to treat addicts.

Both Kedah and Kelantan are conservative rural areas where Malay Muslims are in a large majority.

Local attitudes towards Western fashion may have as much to do with a certain small-town mentality as religious sensibilities.

In large cities like Kuala Lumpur young people are far freer to express themselves.

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« Reply #5 on: 2003-09-14 07:56:59 »
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Re:The Joys of Faith
« Reply #6 on: 2004-02-02 17:46:43 »
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