Sevierville man files lawsuit, claims he was assaulted during ch

Sevierville man files lawsuit claiming he was assaulted during church meeting

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Andrew Byrd of Sevierville has filed a lawsuit against the Family Chapel Church of God in Pigeon Forge Andrew Byrd of Sevierville has filed a lawsuit against the Family Chapel Church of God in Pigeon Forge

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

PIGEON FORGE (WATE) - It started as a standard church meeting, but a Sevierville man claims it left him broken and bruised.

Andrew Byrd of Sevierville has filed a lawsuit against the Family Chapel Church of God in Pigeon Forge, saying he was assaulted by church leaders on Feb. 21, 2012.

After nearly a year later, Byrd is taking action against the church.

In the lawsuit filed in Sevier County on Feb. 15, Byrd says he went to what he thought was just a regular meeting at the church.

He says just a few minutes after the meeting began, he was thrown to the ground, beaten and told that demons were being cast out of him.

Family Chapel Church of God is located off Charlotte's Court in Pigeon Forge.

Byrd says Pastor Joel Arwood and his wife Theresa Arwood requested he attend the meeting there.

The suit claims that during the meeting, Theresa said he had a "demon or spirit that needed to be cast out."

The suit alleges the pastor and his wife, along with a man named Charles Shields, all of Sevierville, pushed him to the ground and held him there while Pastor Arwood struck him and Theresa shouted instructions.

Byrd says he begged to be released, but they wouldn't let him go.

The suit claims that afterward, Pastor Arwood told the congregation he had "punched the devil and knocked the devil's tooth out."

In a Sevier County Sheriff's Office report filed the day before the lawsuit, Byrd suffered a broken tooth, bruising and lacerations to the face, as well as pain and lasting injury to his back and leg, from what the lawsuit calls a "vicious attack."

Byrd is asking for $200,000 in compensatory damage, and $3,500,000 in punitive damage for the assault the suit says caused him "extensive physical injuries and emotional trauma," plus extensive medical and dental expenses.

The suit is against Pastor Joel Arwood, Theresa Arwood, Charles Shields, Family Chapel Church of God and the Church of God International.

Byrd pressed assault and false imprisonment charges against the defendants.

Byrd and Joel Arwood declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying their lawyers had advised them not to.

The defendants are scheduled to appear in Sevier County Court on March 20.

Joel Arwood says The Church of God International will release a statement on the lawsuit in the near future.

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