HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A central Pennsylvania church and its youth pastor have pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from a mock kidnapping of a youth group that was meant to be a lesson in religious persecution.
Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church in Lower Swatara Township and Andrew David Jordan, 28, of Elizabethtown, waived an appearance Thursday at a formal arraignment in Dauphin County Court on charges of false imprisonment and simple assault, WHTM-TV reported.
Prosecutors say the half-hour ordeal in March included interrogation and staged torture using power tools.
They said masked congregation members bound the teens, placed pillowcases over their heads and drove them in a van to the parsonage on the church grounds, where the men pretended to torture Jordan.
Prosecutors said some children knew of the staged event in advance, but others who weren’t members of the church didn’t know it was a simulation.
One of the visiting children, a 14-year-old girl, told authorities she received a cut to her lip and bruises to her legs and feared she would be raped during the exercise, according to court documents. Her mother filed a complaint with police, prompting the investigation.
Glad Tidings pastor John Lanza said in March that the church was “so saddened” that anyone had been traumatized during the event but added that other youth from the church sent emails of support. The church is about 10 miles outside Harrisburg.
Lanza said at the time that the goal of the exercise was to prepare the youth for what they might encounter as missionaries in foreign countries. He didn’t disclose the names of those involved but said the mock kidnappers included an off-duty police officer and a retired Army captain.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy