Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, May 8, 1999

Four "church mentors" flog, injure 8-year-old; pastor apologizes
A 3-inch square chunk of skin was torn from the child's right buttock, police say

By Jim Brooks

When questioned by detectives after a brutal beating by four of his church mentors, an 8-year-old North Little Rock boy tried to blame himself for the injuries. "I get spanked a lot because I get in trouble a lot," Larry Storay told investigators.

Police said Larry was beaten so severely with a wooden paddle that a 3-inch square chunk of skin was torn from his right buttock. The second-grader was listed in stable condition Friday at Arkansas Children's Hospital.

On Friday, Rev. Cedric Hayes, the pastor of Gloryland Baptist Church, held a news conference to discuss the charges. Watching from a pew at the back of the church was a North Little Rock police detective and investigators with the state Department of Human Services.

"I would like to take this opportunity to offer a formal and public apology to the child and to his family," Hayes said. "And I need to express from the start that this church has always been a ministry of integrity and we have tried to do only the things that will enrich the lives of families."

Larry's grandmother, Mary Howard, said she does not blame the church for her grandson's injuries. Larry was one of about 40 members of a church program called Soldiers of Christ, a Christian fraternity designed to instill discipline. The youths, between the ages of 7 and 18, are supervised by about a dozen older men, called "Big Brothers."

"The program is designed to teach young men life skills and teach them to be gentlemanlike," Hayes said. "They're very fine future leaders." Four men, including three church employees, are charged with first-degree battery in the Thursday afternoon paddling.

David Buckner, 32, Dewaldon Frazier, 42, Donnivane Hall, 24, and Anthwan Walker, 23, all of North Little Rock were released Friday from the Pulaski County jail after posting $10,000 bail.

"These four young men have been men of standards, good men who have worked with our youth in many capacities," the pastor said. "And the hearts of many young people have loved them." The four men told police they took turns spanking the 3-foot 5-inch, 56-pound Storay after picking him up after school where he had gotten in trouble for hitting a girl. Both Howard and his legal guardian Lashawnna Glass signed release forms allowing the "Big Brothers" to pick Larry up from school.

According to a North Little Rock police report, the men took Larry into the church's barber shop and spoke to him about the hitting at school. Larry told investigators that the men then took turns paddling him as he was bent over a chair. After the paddling, the "Big Brothers" took Larry home. Glass told officers that the boy walked stiffly but did not cry and immediately went upstairs to take a nap. She first noticed Larry's injury when she saw blood on his underwear.

When officers arrived at Larry's home, he was being held by family members and was crying. "He had to be laid on his stomach as he could not sit or stand," the report said. "His bottom was extremely swollen, and extremely bruised and bloody. He had a large portion of skin that looked as if it had been ripped from his bottom."

Investigators then questioned the four men who, after being advised of their rights, gave statements admitting they paddled Larry. Hayes said the church investigating. "And I want to assure the family and the public that I will make every effort necessary to assure that this thing won't happen again," Hayes said.

The four men will be arraigned Tuesday in North Little Rock Municipal Court.

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