Updated:ATLANTA, Ga. —
Channel 2 Action News has learned the Rev. Arthur Allen, the controversial pastor of the House of Prayer church in northwest Atlanta, died in a house fire Monday afternoon.
The fire happened at a home on Lookout Avenue in northwest Atlanta. Firefighters managed to get Allen out the house, but he died shortly after.
Allen gained notoriety in the early 2000s for delivering corporal punishment on children in his congregation. He was taken to jail on several occasions after admitting to his actions. Many of the kids' parents said they supported Allen's practices.
Neighbors on Monday told Channel 2's Tom Jones they were saddened by Allen's death.
"To hear that brother passed away, that isn't good news," said Demarius Armstrong. "I don't care if the brother did negative in the past or not."
Channel 2 Action News closely followed the controversy surrounding Allen. Children in his congregation said they were held in the air, and beaten with sticks and belts by adult church members. The kids were eventually placed into state custody. Allen said the whippings were necessary to maintain discipline and he was following God's law.
Allen was later convicted and served two years in jail for child cruelty.
Meanwhile, firefighters are still trying to figure out what caused the deadly fire. House of Prayer members stopped by the scene, but declined to comment.