A Minneapolis pastor and his son are accused of beating a 12-year-old boy for questioning the existence of God.
Pastor Dong Wook Kim, 51, of the Good News Church, and his 19-year-old son Joo Seong Kim allegedly beat the boy over a four day period, Twin Cities Pioneer Press reports.
Police say the pastor and his son used a two-by-four wooden plank and an electrical cord to assault the boy because he wanted to test God.
The boy managed to escape from the two men, and a stranger found him in the snow wearing only basketball shorts and a T-shirt. The wind chill at the time was below zero.
“Help me!” he yelled.
The boy had a black eye, large whip marks, scabs on his back and bruising on his arms, backside and legs. One of the bruises was the size of a football, according to police.
The boy’s father was allegedly aware of the beatings that took place in a windowless basement of the church.
When the boy could not hold a push-up position and plank, Dong Wook allegedly kicked him in the head and face. The next day, when the boy failed to hold a plank position, Joo Seong hit him with a 4-foot long stick, causing bruising on his foot and bleeding from his big toe.
That same day an electrical cord was used to whip the boy more than 10 times, Dong Wook admitted to police. He also noted that the boy was slapped by his father several times in the face.
On a separate day, Joo Seong punched the boy in the head, which caused ringing in his ears. He also slammed the boy’s head into a door frame multiple times.
Dong Wook admitted to police that a “stick” was used to beat the boy 20 times. Police later discovered it was a two-by-four plank.
The pastor told police he “was really upset at the time” over the boy rejecting God.
“I lost control,” he said.
The pastor reportedly also confessed to hitting the boy’s 4-year-old sister on four occasions when the children’s parents were present. He used a paint stir stick to hit her on the feet and palms.
Dong Wook and Joo Seong are charged with two felony counts of assault in the second- and third-degree, and one felony count of malicious punishment of a child.
Another son of Dong Wook told KSTP: “From the bottom of our hearts, we really wanted to help [the victim]."
Dong Wook’s wife wrote a letter on Dec. 19 for the judge presiding over her husband and son’s cases.
In the letter, she explains that Dong Wook served in the Korean Air Force for 16 years before leaving the service to become a minister.
“The reason why he made that decision was because he was suffering from sin, but then he was able to meet God and be free from sin,” she wrote, adding that she respects and honors her husband for his choice.
“He has been ministering for 14 years and has guided countless youths to get on the right path,” she wrote.
Dong Wook’s wife then defends his actions, and those of her son.
“My husband and son didn’t have any bad intentions when hitting Seng. It was out of greed of wanting to make him a better person. We were like family,” she wrote, adding that it was only because of the closeness they had with the boy that physical punishment was allowed.
“If it were any other child they would’ve never set a finger on them,” she continued.
The wife admits that her husband and son did wrong, and asks that the judge make “favorable arrangements for them.”
If convicted, both men could serve up to seven years in prison and face $14,000 in fines on the second-degree charge, up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines on the third-degree charge and up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines for the malicious punishment charge.