Two brothers, ages 9 and 10, were beaten by a 36-year-old pastor, Jefferson Parish investigators said.
Pastor Daniel Smith of Gretna was arrested after a mother told investigators Smith beat her two children instead of counseling the boys for misbehaving.
According to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, the two boys were misbehaving at Sunday morning services at a Marrero church on Ames Boulevard.
After church, investigators said, the boys’ mom brought them to see the pastor for what she thought would be a counseling session.
“Their mom said, ‘We’re going to let you see the pastor,’ because according to the mom, he would see the boys for counseling,” Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Glen Boyd said.
The next day, JPSO said its detectives were called to Woodmere Elementary School in Marrero to look into a child cruelty complaint.
One of the boys complained of soreness to the school nurse, and the nurse discovered several dark red bruises and abrasions on his abdomen, arm and back.
“The mother trusted the pastor, and seemingly from the boys statement, he went too far,” Boyd said. The 10-year-old boy told detectives Smith beat him with a belt and that he cried and urinated on himself.
Smith also beat his brother, JPSO said, but the boy’s injuries were not as severe. “According to the boys, the pastor asked him to raise his shirt and proceeded to beat him with a belt. His younger brother, 9 years old, was beaten as well, but not as severely,” Boyd said.
The boys’ mother told investigators that as a single mother, she often seeks the pastor’s assistance with family counseling, but said that the pastor never physically disciplined her sons in the past and she had no knowledge he was going to beat them.
On Monday, Smith met with detectives at the Investigations Bureau, but refused to cooperate with investigators, police said.
Boyd said Smith was asked to remove his belt from his pants prior to being booked and uttered, “That’s not the belt I used to whip the boy.”
Smith was placed under arrest and booked with cruelty to a juvenile and simple battery.