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Sunday, September 18, 2005                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor convicted of child cruelty gets out of prison

ATLANTA — A minister is free after serving two years in prison for having children at his church whipped with belts.

The Rev. Arthur Allen Jr. was released Wednesday from Central State Prison in Macon, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Peggy Chapman said.

Allen's wife, Trina, picked up the minister from the medium security prison, Chapman said.

Allen, 73, has been in the prison since 2003 on child cruelty and aggravated assault charges stemming from activities at the House of Prayer church in northwest Atlanta.

He was accused of ordering church members to discipline children with whips and belts when they misbehaved. The spankings left welts on two boys.

He served a 90-day jail sentence but refused to comply with the condition of his 10-year probation that children in his congregation could only be hand spanked at home by their parents.

Allen skipped a probation revocation hearing and was on the run for five months before his capture in Cobb County two years ago.

Four other church members also were convicted three years ago in connection with the beatings of children at the church and served jail time.

Wearing jeans and a casual shirt, Allen gathered with his small congregation Wednesday afternoon at the church. He declined to comment on his release.