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Pastor, 10 lay members accused of child abuse

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ATLANTA (AP) — The pastor and 10 members of an Atlanta church that backs the corporal punishment of children were charged with child abuse Friday for allegedly beating two boys during services last year.

The aggravated assault and child cruelty charges are the latest development in the highly publicized investigation of the 130-member House of Prayer church.

Those indicted include the Rev. Arthur Allen Jr., 69, and 10 parents of children who were taken into protective custody during the investigation.

The indictment charges that church members twice beat the boys, then 7 and 10, during services in February, causing "cruel and excessive mental pain." According to prosecutors, Allen directed the beating in which the children were suspended in the air while being struck.