The pastor and two members of a Corona, CA church pleaded guilty on Monday to torturing a thirteen-year-old boy, including driving him into the desert and forcing him to dig his own grave. Lonny Lee Remmers, James Craig, and Darryll Duana Jeter Jr. abused the child at a group home run by Heart of Worship Community Church.
According to a witness, the three men then drove the boy into the desert where they forced him to dig his own grave for more than an hour. The boy was placed into the hole the three upstanding Christians forced him to dig as they began to cover him with dirt.
He was then taken to the group home. The boy had been stripped, placed in the shower tied to a chair, and sprayed with mace. He was not permitted to wash off, causing his nose to bleed from the chemicals. One of the men rubbed salt in his open wounds.
Later the same day, the boy was told to sit in the center of a group of men at a Bible study when Remmers asked for some pliers. He then lifted the boy’s shirt and squeezed his nipple with the tool.
According to police, the boy was living in the home because his mother, who lives in another group home, asked the pastor to teach her son some responsibility, and to “be a man.”
According to the boy, his mother and sister are members of the church. He was previously living with his mother but says he was placed in the home to discipline him for his behavior and not accepting responsibility for his actions. He told police that he was beaten with belts as he attempted to climb out of the hole, then left in a car as two of the men ate at a Denny’s.
Remmers entered guilty pleas to inflicting bodily injury on a child and assault with a deadly weapon. He will spend up to two years in a state prison. Craig and Jeter were placed on three years formal probation and will serve one year in prison. Both men pleaded guilty to child abuse and making criminal threats.
This is not the first time Christians have used extreme methods of correction. In 2013, Larry and Carri Williams received the maximum sentences allowed under state law after being found guilty of beating and starving their adopted daughter in the “Christian” way outlined by To Train Up a Child authors Michael and Debi Pearl. The book warns “parents” to “be careful about using it in front of others–even at church; nosy neighbors might call social workers.”