Parents Charged With Beating Son to Death in Church Confessional Session

A devastating story comes from New Hartford, New York, this week, as two teenage brothers were allegedly violently beaten by their church group for failing to confess their sins. One of the brothers lost his life in the brutal attack, which included multiple injuries by church members -- including their own parents.


A secretive church (some neighbors called it a cult) apparently called in Lucas Leonard, 19, and Christopher Leonard, 17, for a "counseling session" after services on Sunday. Their parents, Bruce and Deborah Leonard, were included, as well as their 33-year-old sister Sarah Ferguson. Fours other adults also participated.

The beating reportedly lasted for hours, and including blows to the boys' abdomens, genitals, backs, and thighs. Lucas was taken to the hospital early on Monday after he stopped breathing, and was pronounced dead from blunt force trauma. Christopher was found by the authorities in the church shortly after that, and was hospitalized in serious condition.

Investigators were able to determine that the boys were "punished" for not begging forgiveness for their purported sins, but were unable to identify what those sins actually were. Leaving the church, maybe? But no matter what they did or didn't do, no one deserves this.

Places of worship are supposed to be safe places. Parents are supposed to be safe. It's tragic that the one place you should feel loved and protected above all else -- in church with your family -- is the place where Lucas was beaten to death and Christopher to within an inch of his life.

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Authorities don't believe that they intended to kill their son, but they do believe that they intended to "seriously hurt" their son, and his death was an unintentional result.

I really don't care if the members of this organization call themselves a church or not -- they're right up there, or maybe even worse than, the Westboro Baptists. This is not what Jesus had in mind when He came to earth and instructed us to worship together. Let me repeat: This is not Christian behavior.

This is depravity at its worst, and I hope that the people involved are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Those boys deserve justice.


Image via © Tetra Images/Corbis

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