A church and its youth pastor waived an appearance at a formal arraignment in Dauphin County court Thursday morning and pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from a youth gathering where teenagers were tied up and blindfolded during a mock raid.
Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church in Lower Swatara Township and 28-year-old Andrew David Jordan, of Elizabethtown, each face a felony count of false imprisonment and a misdemeanor count of simple assault.
An investigating grand jury last summer found that Jordan planned a mock raid for the youth ministry program in March to teach the teens about religious persecution of Christians in other countries.
During the program, several masked men from the congregation bound the children's hands, placed pillowcases over their heads, and drove them in a van to the parsonage on the church grounds, where the men pretended to torture Jordan, according to the grand jury presentment.
Prosecutors said some of the children knew of the staged event in advance, but others who were not members of the church were frightened because they did not know it was a simulation.
One of the visiting children, a 14-year-old girl, told authorities she received a cut to her lip, bruises to her legs, and feared she would be raped during the incident, according to the presentment.