Appeals court upholds pastor’s abuse conviction

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Wisconsin appeals court says a Black Earth pastor accused of conspiring to commit child abuse was properly convicted.

A jury found Philip Caminiti, pastor of Aleitheia Bible Church, guilty of eight counts for instructing church members to hit babies and toddlers with sticks to discipline them in 2012.

He argued on appeal prosecutors violated his free speech right to advocate for the use of force and his right to religious freedom.

The 4th District Court of Appeals rejected those arguments Thursday, saying the jury could have reasonably inferred that Caminiti’s teachings produced lawless action and the state has a compelling interest in preventing child abuse.

Caminiti’s attorney, Robert Henak, says he’ll ask the state Supreme Court to review the case.

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