A south London pastor who blindfolded children then hit them with belts and wires while shouting "Jesus" at them has been spared jail.
Croydon Crown Court heard how Rose Amadasun, from Beauchamp Road, South Norwood, would also shake the children in her congregation and force them to fast for days at a time.
The investigating detective said that he came up against "resistance" from the congregation "as they closed ranks to protect their religious leader" before she was convicted.
An investigation was triggered after two members of the public said they had witnessed the 49-year-old hitting children with a belt while shouting "Jesus" aggressively at them.
It was then that detectives from the Metropolitan Police's Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command began their investigation.
The Croydon Advertiser reported that Amadasun had actually been hitting the children for a number of years.
They reported that police said she: "hit the youngsters with belts and wires; blindfold them before assaulting them; shake them when they made a noise; and force them to fast for a number of days at a time".
Metropolitan Police's Detective Constable Giles Weeden said according to the Croydon Guardian: "This was a complex inquiry that was often met with resistance as the congregation closed ranks to protect their religious leader.
"The investigation highlights that the Met's Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command will thoroughly investigate all and any allegation without prejudice in order to protect children."
Amadasun was arrested on suspicion of actual bodily harm and subsequently charged with five counts of child cruelty.
She appeared in court on 29 July where she pleaded guilty to all five charges.
Amadasun was spared jail and sentenced at Croydon Crown Court to 16 months' imprisonment, which was suspended by the judge for 18 months.
In addition to her suspended sentence Amadasun was also ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and take part in rehabilitation activities for up to 25 days.