Since it's Father’s Day weekend, I’d like to give Pastor Creflo Dollar the benefit of the doubt – but my gut says let the police investigation run its course.
Even though the facts in Dollar’s alleged child abuse case are murky, I do know this: there’s a thin line between tough love and domestic violence and the truth between parents and children, in some cases, is somewhere in the middle.
This could be one of those cases.
Dollar, pastor of World Changers Church International, was arrested last week at his suburban Atlanta home, accused of choking his 15-year-old daughter during an argument and charged with simple battery and cruelty to children.
It’s a domestic violence case that has caused widespread consternation among parishioners at Dollar’s church, his supporters, and his critics who refer to the flamboyant minister as “Cash Flow Dollar” because of his extravagant lifestyle.
But now, right or wrong, in addition to the law enforcement investigation, the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP and the Fayette County Branch of the NAACP are conducting a preliminary investigation into Dollar’s June 8 arrest where the girl’s 19-year-old sister told police that Dollar physically assaulted the 15-year-old.
“In order to ensure fairness, the NAACP wants to make sure that first responders to alleged domestic parent/child dispute calls are skillfully trained to clearly distinguish discipline from child abuse,” the NAACP said in a statement.
Fayette County NAACP President John E. Jones implied that Dollar’s daughter may have manufactured the entire story.
“We simply want to make sure that Pastor Dollar is allowed to be a responsible parent and discipline his children,” said Jones.
“Parenting children in this day and time can be very challenging because many children believe that they can call the police at any time to stop any unwanted discipline. Little do they know that this can subject their parent or them to an arrest.”
Clearly, the NAACP makes some valid points, but I suspect many will insist that the civil rights group mind its own business.
Meanwhile, this has become an unsettling case about tough parenting, he-said-she-said drama, and perhaps child abuse. What we know for sure is that Dollar and his daughter argued about a party – a highly-emotional subject for many parents of teenage girls across the country.
And Dollar admitted to spanking his daughter. So when does spanking your daughter turn into child abuse? Should Dollar not have spanked his daughter and given her a stern scolding instead?
What’s troubling to me is that Dollar’s daughter also told police – if true – that Dollar’s abusive behavior toward her “was not the first time it’s happened.”
That’s a serious indictment against Dollar and a disturbing pattern of cruelty if his daughter is being truthful. If Dollar’s daughter is lying, then that’s another problem.
According to police report, the 15-year-old daughter told investigators that she went to the kitchen and began crying after being told she could not attend an upcoming party. Her father entered the room and asked her why she was crying. After she told Dollar that she didn’t want to “talk right now” Dollar charged her, put his hands around her throat, and began to choke her, reports said.
The 15-year-old told deputies her father then “slammed her to the ground and began punching her and took his shoe off and started whooping her with it,” reports said. The deputy in his report said he noticed a scratch on the right side of the girl’s neck close to her throat.
For his part, Dollar said he and his daughter argued about a party she wanted to attend. After the argument, Dollar entered the kitchen and became upset. Dollar told deputies that he entered the kitchen and asked his daughter why she was crying.
Dollar said his daughter became very disrespectful and he approached her and tried to restrain her. Dollar said that while restraining her, she began to hit back and then he wrestled her to the floor. He said he spanked his daughter on her bottom and the back of her legs — but he doesn't believe his actions resulted in child abuse.
He denied the accusations from the pulpit of his mega-church, saying "all is well in the Dollar household" and claimed that he "should have never been arrested," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Dollar said the abrasions on his daughter's neck were scrapes from an old case of eczema, adding that the incident was part of the devil's plan to "discredit" his ministry.
"Malicious witnesses testify against me," he said, reading from Psalms 35 in the Old Testament. "They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about … May those who rejoice in my discomfort be humiliated and disgraced."
Preaching from scripture aside, it’s unclear whether Dollar is guilty of physically abusing his daughter, but this much we do know: All is not well inside the sprawling suburban mansion that Dollar calls home.