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Tag: Child Neglect

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Keith Holt and His Wife Accused of Child Abuse and Neglect

keith and candy holt

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Keith Holt, former assistant pastor (or fill-in pastor) of House of Prayer Church in Blackwell, Oklahoma, and his wife, Candy, stand accused of child abuse and neglect.

Kay NewsCow reports:

Keith Lynn Holt, 57, and Candy Denise Holt, 53, both of Blackwell, are scheduled to appear in Kay County District Court on March 1.

Keith, a former assistant pastor at House of Prayer Church in Blackwell, is facing three felony counts of child abuse and one count of child neglect, while his wife Candy, is facing three felony charges of enabling child abuse and one charge of child neglect.

The pair were arrested by Blackwell police on Jan. 17. (see story)

Police report in the affidavit that the couple were arrested following an investigation that started with the Department of Human Services.

DHS workers report in the affidavit that they received a report that the couple went to Arkansas and left eight children ranging from ages two to 17 home alone.

Officials report they went to the residence and found an adult friend checking on the juveniles.

The next day, Jan. 12, officials returned to the home and made contact with the Holts. The couple reportedly admitted that they went to Arkansas to attend a funeral.

During an investigation, they reportedly stated that the kids have items taken away for punishment and claimed that they do not spank the children. They explained that the two of the teens are biological children of Keith, three of the children are Candy’s nieces and nephews, and that three of the juveniles were left to them in a will.

On Jan. 14, DHS workers report that they received photos showing the 14-year-old with bruising on her face and a video of a juvenile male stating that Keith had punched him and thrown him down the stairs.

After receiving the information, DHS and a police officer went to the home two times. But no one answered.

On Jan. 16, officials returned and Candy answered the door.

A representative of the Dearing House interviewed one of the teens.

The teen’s arms and legs were reportedly covered in bruises. She claimed that Keith hits her with a board. The teen reportedly retrieved a 28-inch-long board from behind the television. The board was reportedly just over two inches wide and about an inch thick.

The teen was interviewed by a Dearing House official. During the interview she reportedly removed her make up, revealing bruising around her left eye.

She alleged that Keith would hit the juveniles with a belt and or the board and would start at the waist and work his way down.

She claimed that Keith threw one of the teens down the stairs and that the couple locked one of the teens in a bathroom for three days with out food or water. The teen said she was able to sneak some crackers and water to the juvenile.

Another teen was interviewed and claimed that Candy does nothing around the house. The teen reportedly said she is responsible for taking care of the three small children and that Keith whipped her on her legs for not having their clothes picked out. The teen reportedly said she was the one locked in the bathroom because the Holt’s believed that she said they were bad parents. The teen reportedly told officials that one time she received 30 swats with the belt from Keith and that he has switched to the board. She claimed that one time Keith swatted one of the females 40 times with the board because Candy couldn’t find her make up and believed the teen took it.

The juvenile male in the video reportedly denied making the tape.

Another juvenile male reportedly told officials that the Holt’s do not hit him because he threatened to hit them back. He backed up allegations made by the other teens.

Another juvenile male reportedly also backed up the claims made by the others and said that the couple leave him alone because he can’t control his anger and that he will hurt them.

The couple were arrested and questioned at the Blackwell police station.

Chief Jay Brewer reports that Candy stated that the kids are honest and that if they said something happened, she believes them. She reportedly spoke of an incident in which Keith spanked one of the juveniles with a belt 16 times and that she had to stop him. She reportedly denied being present for beatings and denied knowing about the teen locked in the bathroom.

Brewer reports that Keith stated that the kids are trustworthy and don’t lie. He reportedly initially denied hitting any of the juveniles since moving to Blackwell but reportedly changed his story. He reportedly admitted to hitting one of the juveniles two times on the buttocks with the board. He claimed that he only whips the children on the buttocks and not the legs and reportedly admitted that he never checked to see of he left bruises on the kids. He reportedly said that it is possible that he hits them so much he doesn’t remember each incident.

Brewer reports that Holt said that he might black out and doesn’t know how many times he hits them.

He reportedly claimed the kids must by lying but doesn’t know what their motivation would be. Holt also reportedly denied locking a teen in a bathroom for three days but admitted that there is a lock outside the upstairs bathroom door.

The couple are being held in the county jail on $100,000 bond and defense attorney Jarrod Stevenson has been appointed to the case.

House of Prayer pastor John Jack released the following statement:

The Blackwell House of Prayer rebukes all statements and actions carried out by Keith Holt. The Bible speaks against child abuse or any mistreatment of children, and we stand firmly by that. The House of Prayer was also never made aware by these children of any indication that this was being carried out.

Really, Pastor Jack? Not one person ever saw a bruise or injury on these children? Never?

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser