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Police: Parishioner Attacks 74-Year-Old Pastor With Wine Bottle During Counseling Session

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PIKE CREEK, Del. (CBS) -- A Delaware pastor is recovering after being assaulted by a young parishioner he was trying to comfort inside his Pike Creek church, police say. Both police and the Diocese of Wilmington confirm 74-year-old Father William Graney had an appointment with 25-year-old Joshua August.

The attack was extremely violent and Resurrection Church employees say they were only able to calm the suspect down when they promised him money and a ride.

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"It was a scheduled counseling session," said New Castle County Police Cpl. Michael Eckerd. "It got heated and an argument ensued."

Police say the attack happened Monday afternoon in the church while Graney was counseling August when the suspect snapped.

Witnesses told police they walked in on the 25-year-old punching and kicking the pastor in the stomach and head. They tried to stop August, but he allegedly got even more aggressive, grabbing a wine bottle, hitting the pastor on the head with it and then pouring the wine on him.

Pastor William Graney
(credit: CBS3)

August allegedly even sprayed a can of compressed air into the pastor's mouth.

"His injuries were significant and he's being treated at the local hospital," said August. "It's a very tragic event."

August was arrested at the church after he broke the front door and tried to flee from police on a skateboard.

Parishioners are now praying for the pastor's speedy recovery.

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"To just have something out of the blue like that happened, especially at a church, that is just wrong," said Robert Rizzardi of Pike Creek.

August's family tells CBS3 that he has a severe mental issue but they are still surprised about the attack.

August is still in jail on $52,000 bail and is facing charges for assault and resisting arrest.

Graney is in stable condition.

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