The founder and leader of a Georgia megachurch--who was arrested last week on charges of choking his teenage daughter, slamming her into the ground and hitting her with a shoe--told churchgoers on Sunday that he did not beat her.
"The truth is, she was not choked, she was not punched," Creflo Dollar, the pastor, said before delivering his Sunday sermon at World Changers Church International in Atlanta on Sunday.
Police in Fayette County were called to Dollar's home at 1 a.m. on Friday. According to the police report, Dollar's 15-year-old daughter said he "put his hands around her throat and began to choke her ... then slammed her to the ground, punched her and beat her with his shoe." There was a scratch on her neck, police said.
"There were not any scratches on her neck," Dollar said. "The only thing on her neck was a prior skin abrasion from eczema. Anything else is an exaggeration and sensationalism."
"The truth is that a family conversation with our youngest daughter got emotional," he said. "And emotions got involved and things escalated from there." His daughter told police the argument was over whether she could go to a party the next night.
Dollar was arrested on charges of simple battery, family violence and child cruelty. He spent the night in Fayette County Jail before posting $5,000 bail. He was released early Friday.
"I will say this emphatically: I should have never been arrested," Dollar said on Sunday.
He also criticized police for rushing to judgment.
"To come and take a picture of a mark that's been there for 10 years, and not have enough intelligence to at least ask the parent what it is, is appalling."
According to the Associated Press, Dollar "got an enthusiastic ovation as he took the pulpit" on Sunday.
"As a father I love my children and I always have their best interest at heart at all times," Dollar said in a statement through his attorney on Friday. "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."
According to CNN's Belief blog, the World Changers Church International is "an $18 million sanctuary that resembles a golden-domed spaceship atop a hill." It has 30,000 members.
According to Dollar's biography on the church website, he has five children with Taffi, his wife and co-pastor.