Atlanta megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar testified Sunday about allegations that he had beaten and choked his 15-year-old daughter. Except he wasn’t in court.
“The truth is, she was not choked, she was not punched,” Dollar told his congregation from the pulpit at World Changers Church International, according to Reuters.
Dollar is one of the most visible preachers in the United States, presiding over a 30,000-member congregation in College Park, Ga., and standing at the center of a constellated worship network of churches in Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.
But when allegations surfaced in the national media that Dollar had beaten and choked one of his daughters because of an argument over whether she could go to a party, Dollar ran into someone with a bigger microphone and a bigger audience.
“There were not any scratches on her neck, but the only thing on her neck was a prior skin abrasion from eczema,” Dollar told his congregation, Reuters reported. “Anything else is exaggeration and sensationalism.”
As previously reported by the Los Angeles Times, deputies had reported a scratch on her neck, saying Dollar “charged her, and put his hands around her throat and began to choke her,” the police report said. “He then slammed her to the ground and began to punch her and took his shoe off and started whooping her with it.” She called 911.
Dollar denied the charges to the police, saying he had to restrain her when she became disrespectful. Another daughter, age 19, gave a verbal statement that corroborated her sister’s story, and then a written statement that corroborated her father’s story.
When deputies asked about the discrepancy, she said her parents were with her when she composed the written statement, authorities said. When separated from her family, she wrote a second statement that matched her verbal statement.
Dollar is charged with misdemeanor charges of battery and cruelty to children.