Pastor: Lengthy Talks a Good Sign

Embattled House of Prayer pastor Arthur Allen called the lengthy deliberations in his criminal trial a good sign.

Allen and four congregants stood accused of child cruelty and aggravated assault for the beating of two boys, ages 7 and 10, during a church service.

The jury started their deliberations Monday afternoon, went through Tuesday and resumed Wednesday morning.

"I do anticipate a favorable verdict because it seems like they are giving serious thought. They just haven't rushed through this, but they've given serious throught to this case," Allen said after arriving for court Wednesday.

On Tuesday, jurors were denied a request Tuesday to review a videotaped interview with one of the two boys. Judge T. Bedford Jackson told jurors to rely on their best memory of the evidence.

Aside from the felony charges, which carry penalties of 20 years each, jurors were also considering charges of simple battery and assault, which carry lighter sentences.

Bruises spotted on the two boys at their schools led to a massive state investigation of the House of Prayer and the removal of a record 49 children from the home of church families.

All but six of the children, including the two boys, have been returned to their homes.