The Slatest

Surviving Brother in Church Beating Case Will Testify Against Sister

Sarah Ferguson, who is accused of second-degree assault in a case that involved the death of her 19-year-old brother, Lucas Leonard.

Pool photo by Tina Russell/Observer-Dispatch/Reuters

The New York state 17-year-old who prosecutors say was severely beaten in an incident involving his parents, sister, and several other members of their secretive church has left the hospital and plans to testify against his sister, prosecutors say. Christopher Leonard’s 19-year-old brother, Lucas, was killed in the attack, and prosecutors have charged the brothers’ parents, Bruce and Deborah Leonard, with manslaughter in Lucas’ death. Four other church members—including Christopher and Lucas’$2 33-year-old sister, Sarah Ferguson—are charged with assault in the case.

Prosecutors have said the Leonard brothers were attacked during a meeting that was called over suspicions that Lucas planned to leave the New Harford, New York, Word of Life Christian Church. An attorney representing their mother has suggested that the church meeting was actually intended to address rumors that the brothers had molested other parishioners; authorities say there is no evidence that Lucas or Christopher Leonard molested anyone.

The Associated Press also reports that “four seemingly neglected dogs” were taken from the Leonard home by an animal advocacy group in the days after Bruce and Deborah Leonard’s arrest.