Whaley holds a baby, accompanied by her husband, Sam and others during a ceremony in the church’s compound.
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As part of its investigation, the AP reviewed hundreds of pages of law enforcement, court and child welfare documents, along with hours of conversations with Jane Whaley, the evangelical church's controlling leader, secretly recorded by followers.The AP also spent more than a year tracking down dozens of former disciples who scattered after leaving the church.Those interviewed – most of them raised in the church – say Word of Faith leaders waged a decades-long cover-up to thwart investigations by law enforcement and social services officials, including strong-arming young victims and their parents to lie.In the past, Whaley has strongly denied that she or other church leaders have ever abused Word of Faith members and contended that any discipline would be protected by the First Amendment's freedom of religion tenets.Under Jane Whaley's leadership, Word of Faith grew from a handful of followers to a 750-member sect, concentrated in a 35-acre complex protected by tight security and a thick line of trees.
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