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Judge dismisses charges in exorcism case

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Charges brought against an East Tennessee pastor over an alleged assault during an exorcism have been dropped.

The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1iWmbSB) reports Sevier County General Sessions Judge Ben Strand dismissed assault and false imprisonment charges against pastors Joel and Teresa Arwood of the Family Chapel Church of God in Pigeon Forge.

The Arwoods were charged after Andrew Byrd said he suffered cracked teeth, a lost crown a torn leg muscle during the Feb. 21, 2012 exorcism.

The judge’s decision on Wednesday came after he heard differing testimony about what happened that night at the church.

Byrd testified that he was injured when Joel Arwood tackled and held him down.

“They had me down a while and Joel was violently shaking my head and hit me one time in the jaw,” he said. “He was shouting something about ‘Come out, you evil spirit!'”

Teresa Arwood testified that her husband took Byrd to the floor after the other man threw two punches at him. She said her husband held him there only until he calmed down, and then released him.

“At that point, he got up and gave Charles a hug,” she said.

Byrd said a lawsuit against the Arwoods and the church would proceed.

“We know what happened,” he said. “If people can’t see it, we’ll just live with it.”

Prosecutor Jimmy Dunn said he had to defer to Strand’s decision.

“He’s the one listening to the facts,” Dunn said.

Defense attorney Don Bosch said his clients declined comment, “other than we’re happy with the result.”

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