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Man recants story that church held him against his will for being gay

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
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SPINDALE, N.C. — A North Carolina man who accused his former church of holding him against his will while he was physically and emotionally abused him because he is gay, has recanted his story.

Michael Lowry, 22, said last week that he’s sorry for filing charges against Word of Faith Fellowship, and for hurting his family and the church.

Michael Lowry

“I know I’m going to have to pay for the things that happened,” said Lowry, surrounded by his family.

In October 2012, Lowry told a sheriff’s investigator that he was imprisoned in a church building at the Word of Faith Fellowship Church in Spindale, N.C., from Aug. 1 to Nov. 19, 2011. He said he was knocked unconscious during his first day of confinement, and the subsequnet treatment was the church’s way of trying to cure him of being gay.

He had previously filed an abuse complaint with the sheriff’s department in February, 2012.

It’s unclear what will happen next, but Lowry could face charges for filing a false police report.

He said he told police and the FBI last week that he wasn’t abused. Both agencies had been investigating his allegations against the church, and the Rutherfordton County district attorney had already presented the case to a grand jury.

During an interview with Associated Press, Lowry also said he lied about being gay.

He said he made up the stories after his parents gave him an ultimatum: Give up pornography or leave. He said he decided to leave home.

Lowry said no one coerced him, and that recanting and returning home to live with his family was his own decision. He also said he is attending Word of Faith services and that his family and church has forgiven him.

This is the latest twist in the case that began when Lowry filed charges last year against the controversial church. Founded in 1979 by Sam and Jane Whaley, Word of Faith has been accused for years of enforcing extensive control over its congregation

The church was investigated twice in the late 1990s for its treatment of children but was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Sheriff Office Detective Sergeant Jamie Keever said Lowry met with him last week, and that the investigation was continuing.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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