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The Latest: Woman says churchgoers told to lie about attack

In this photo taken May 19, 2017, Brooke Covington, a member of the Word of Faith Fellowship church in Spindle, N.C., leaves a hearing at Rutherford County Courthouse accompanied by attorney, Joshua Valentine, in Rutherfordton, N.C. Covington and other church members are accused of kidnapping and assaulting Matthew Fenner, a former church member, because he is gay. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

RUTHERFORDTON, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the trial of a North Carolina minister who is accused of assaulting and kidnapping a gay church member (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

One of five people charged with beating a fellow church member to expel what they called “homosexual demons” says church leaders asked everyone at the attack to tell investigators that nothing happened.

Sarah Anderson testified Friday for prosecutors in the trial of Word of Faith Fellowship minister Brooke Covington.

Anderson says church leaders including two state prosecutors at the time met with the roughly 30 people present when Matthew Fenner was beaten in January 2013. She says then-assistant district attorneys Frank Webster and Chris Back told them to tell authorities that nothing happened.

Fenner said church members told him they were beating what they called “homosexual demons” out of him. Anderson testified he was slapped, beaten, choked and screamed at for two hours at the Spindale church.

Covington’s lawyer David Teddy was cross-examining Anderson about her testimony that she was the first to strike Fenner after Covington initiated the confrontation.

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1:55 p.m.

One of five people charged with beating a fellow church member to expel homosexual demons is testifying she started the physical assault by slapping the man.

Sarah Anderson testified Friday that she told other leaders at Word of Faith Fellowship she thought Matthew Fenner was unclean and sinful.

Minister Brooke Covington is standing trial on kidnapping and assault charges. Anderson says Covington began the confrontation by screaming at Fenner after a January 2013 service at the church in Spindale, North Carolina. She says she then slapped Fenner, and then Covington and about 30 others joined in, slapping, beating, choking and screaming at the man for two hours.

Anderson says she has no deal with prosecutors. She didn’t say why she decided to incriminate herself.

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Read more of AP’s investigation of the Word of Faith Fellowship here . The AP National Investigative Team can be reached at investigate@ap.org

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