A couple allegedly beat their teenage son to death during a family counseling session inside the “sanctuary room” of a Christian church, police said.
Bruce Leonard, 65, and Deborah Leonard, 59, have been charged with manslaughter following the death of 19-year-old son Lucas. Daily Mirror reports that ,Four of the couple’s fellow parishioners were also charged with assaulting the teenager’s younger brother, Christopher, on Sunday at the Word of Life Church in Chadwicks, New York.
“Both brothers were continually subjected to physical punishment over the course of several hours in the hopes that each would confess to prior sins and ask for forgiveness,” chief of the New Hartford Police, Michael Inserra said.
Lucas died on Monday afternoon after being driven to a hospital by family members, who falsely told doctors the teenager had suffered a gunshot wound, police said.
Leonard’s injuries were consistent with blunt force trauma to his torso and extremities, police said. Through interviews with church members, police said they learned that his younger brother, 17-year-old Christopher had also been severely beaten during the counseling session.