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Church Members Accused of Harassment

Former students of a mountain college have filed complaints claiming they were harassed on campus by members of a controversial church.

The two students are former members of the Rutherford County's Word of Faith church and both say the harassment at Isothermal Community College began when they left the church.

"My family didn't feel like I was safe," said one of the students who requested to remain anonymous, out of a fear that his family members still involved in the church would be ostracized or forced to cut ties with him in retaliation for speaking publicly.

"There have been two complaints filed orally," said Isothermal Community College Director of Marketing Mike Gavin. "The alleged harasser was not a student at the college and not an employee at the college - just come to campus."

Both of the complaints focused on a cousin of one of the students - a female member of the church.

"She would wait outside with the window rolled down and I would wait for like 20 minutes after class for her to leave ... and she would not," one of a the students said.

Complaints included being followed in and out of class, a church member passing a threatening note during class - or being told threatening things while on campus.

"There would be times when they would say okay you're going to possibly die, you're going to get cancer, you're going to get this that and the other," said one of the students.

That same students said the adult church member once took pictures through a window during class until a teacher stepped in.

"We responded with the way we would respond to any complaint of that kind of nature and let our sheriff 's depuies who are stationed here on campus know," said Gavin.

Both students graduated in May.

An attorney for Word of Faith said Wednesday that he believes the complaints are nothing more than a family dispute. He says the church affiliation of any of the parties involved is irrelevant.


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