Matthew Fenner of North Carolina thought he was “going to die” when members of his evangelical church beat and choked him for two hours to expel his “homosexual demons,” he told a court on Thursday.
Mr Fenner was the first person to take the stand in the assault and kidnapping trial of Brooke Covington, a 58-year-old minister at Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina.
Covington is alleged to be the leader of a 2013 beating involving numerous congregants who pointed out his sexual orientation, saying, “God said there is something wrong in your life.”
Fenner said he had cancer as a child and had a biopsy one week before he was assaulted. “I’m frail and in my mind, I’m thinking, ‘is my neck going to break, am I going to die?'” Fenner said.
If convicted, Covington faces up to two years in prison. She is the first of five church members to face trial in the case. Each defendant will be tried separately.
The trials continue.