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Probe sought after AP report on church abuse allegations

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              In this 2012 photo provided by a former member of the church, Jeffrey Cooper holds his infant daughter at her 2012 baby dedication at t...

              In this 2012 provided by a former member of the church, Word of Faith Fellowship leader Jane Whaley, center left, holds Jeffrey Cooper'...

              FILE - In this Thursday, March 2, 1995 file photo, Word of Faith Fellowship church leader Jane Whaley talks to members of the media, ac...

In this 2012 photo provided by a former member of the church, Jeffrey Cooper holds his infant daughter at her 2012 baby dedication at t...

In this 2012 provided by a former member of the church, Word of Faith Fellowship leader Jane Whaley, center left, holds Jeffrey Cooper'...

FILE - In this Thursday, March 2, 1995 file photo, Word of Faith Fellowship church leader Jane Whaley talks to members of the media, ac...

A district attorney in North Carolina is asking for a state investigation of two of his assistant prosecutors who are members of a North Carolina church that former congregants say beat members and derailed criminal investigations.

Attorney David Learner said Wednesday that he has asked the State Bureau of Investigation look at his employees who are members of the Word of Faith church.

The request was made Tuesday, a day after Learner said he was aware of an Associated Press story about prosecutors Frank Webster and Chris Back providing legal advice, helping at strategy sessions and participating in a mock trial for four congregants charged with harassing a former member.

Learner's emailed statement Wednesday did not say if Webster and Back will be allowed to continue to prosecute cases during the investigation. His office did not respond to an email and phone message from the AP.

Nine former Word of Faith members also said that Back and Webster, who is sect leader Jane Whaley's son-in-law, helped derail a social services investigation into child abuse in 2015 and attended meetings where Whaley warned congregants to lie to investigators about abuse incidents.

Under North Carolina law, prosecutors cannot provide legal advice or be involved in outside cases in any manner. Violation of those rules can lead to ethics charges, dismissal or disbarment. Offering legal advice in an ongoing investigation to help a person avoid prosecution could lead to criminal charges.

Learner read a statement to reporters on Monday saying he wasn't aware of any investigations into his employees.

"As far as I am concerned, they are my employees and this is a personnel issue," Learner said that day.

Back and Webster have not responded to several messages left by the AP about the allegations.