On the heels of Atlanta-area megachurch minister Creflo Dollar releasing a statement about his arrest for allegedly assaulting his teenage daughter, supporters of his World Changers International Church have been speculating as to the whereabouts and role of Taffi Dollar at the time of the alleged attack and subsequent arrest.
According to reports on his arrest, the Dollars' 15-year-old daughter, who has not been identified, got into an argument with her father about attending a party. Authorities, called to the home Friday about 1 a.m. on domestic violence claims, say the popular minister "slightly hurt" the girl in a fight at their Atlanta home, leaving the girl with "superficial injuries."
Investigator Rowan revealed that the Dollars' 19-year-old daughter, identified in reports as Alexandria Dollar, corroborated her sister's story, and claimed in the incident report that she saw her father "put both hands around her sister's neck and [choke] her for about five seconds." Alexandria Dollar then claimed she witnessed Pastor Dollar take her sister by the shoulders and slap her in the face, and throw her to the ground when she tried to break free.
Some in the Christian community, saddened by the news, have been wondering where the girls' mother, Taffi Dollar, was at the time of the incident.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution cites the incident report filed by authorities as showing that Taffi Dollar was in the home, but not in the kitchen, where the alleged incident took place. Once alerted to the incident, Taffi Dollar entered the kitchen and brought the altercation to an end.
A copy of the arresting deputy's report published online reveals that Taffi Dollar told the officer that "the only thing she saw was her daughter, the juvenile victim in (sic) the floor and did not see the altercation between her husband and daughter."
Taffi Dollar, described as a "a world-renowned author, teacher, and conference speaker" on World Changers Church International's website, says that her primary purpose and calling is "supporting her husband in ministry, and raising godly children." She has also said she has a "heart for restoring women and family relationships."
Supporters have expressed sympathy for the Dollars and were encouraging prayer for the family.
"Praying for Taffi Dollar..... I know her heart is hurting, but God is the mender of broken hearts!" tweeted @mitta76.
Twitter user @indiamiller1 wrote: "It takes a lot of prayer & meditation when raising teens!!! I know! Praying for Creflo/Taffi Dollar."
Dollar, who shares five children with his wife, faces misdemeanor charges of simple battery and cruelty to children.
The minister was released from jail on $5,000 bond early Friday morning and released a statement through his attorney, Nikki Bonner:
"As a father I love my children and I always have their best interest at heart at all times, and I would never use my hand to ever cause bodily harm to my children. The facts in this case will be handled privately to further protect my children. My family thanks you for your prayers and continued support."
Although Dollar was not expected to make further comments on the case, Bonner told The Associated Press that the minister was still scheduled to preach from the pulpit Sunday -- a decision at least one critic found troubling.
Anthea Butler, a professor of Religious Studies and Graduate chair at the University of Pennsylvania, told the ACJ that Dollar should perhaps take time off to deal with the case.
"It's very interesting when the preacher gets arrested for battery," said Butler. "We have to wait and see what the circumstances are surrounding the charges."
Butler added, "Here we see someone who espouses Christian virtues being arrested for battery. Perhaps that's a real signal that they need to step down from the ministry for a while. How do you get up in the pulpit and preach on Sunday?"
Dollar, whose local World Changers International Church is home to more than 30,000 members and his New York City branch home to 6,000 others, reportedly preached in a 2006 sermon about child abuse.
"We're responsible for not abusing our children but for disciplining them," he reportedly said. "There's a place for it, and it should only be administered with temperance. You don't go lose your temper on your child, that's abuse. But you don't throw the baby out with the bath water either."