"HATE SPEECH" CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST PREACHER;
READ FROM THE BIBLE AT COUNCIL MEETING
MEDIA - After nearly 7 months, prosecutors decided to drop the charges against Repent America director Michael Marcavage for reading the Bible at his borough council meeting due to "insufficient evidence". Charges were brought against the preacher after the borough council president declared that Marcavage was about to read "hate speech" from the Bible.
Michael Marcavage is a resident of the Borough of Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, which is the first community in the county to have an open homosexual in public office. He attended the July 21, 2004 meeting to share his opposition to the council's agenda of making Lansdowne a 'homosexual mecca'.
During the public comment period, Marcavage was ordered not to read from the Bible by the president of the council, who stated that God's Word is "hate speech." Michael was then physically removed from the room and ordered out of the building. Prior to this, he was struck by a member of the council, and further assaulted by the Lansdowne police chief.
At the preliminary hearing on September 23, 2004, Assistant District Attorney Alyssa Kusturiss argued, "Council perceived what he was reading as hate speech. It would be homophobic today. They couldn't let him go on. You can't go up to the podium and start reading from the Bible."
C. Scott Shields, lawyer for Marcavage, stated, "In addition to publicly proclaiming that the Bible is hate speech and homophobic, prosecutor Alyssa Kusturiss referred to my client as a jerk in her file notes."
Lansdowne Borough council member Elliot Borgman, who struck Marcavage, testified at the hearing, "I'm embarrassed that it has gone to this point." "I'm not proud of the action that I took," he continued.
Marcavage faced up to 15 months in jail and a $2,800 fine for reading from the Bible, which related to charges of "disrupting public meetings and processions" and "disorderly conduct".
According to the public relations officer for the Delaware County District Attorney’s office, Joseph J. Brielman, the charges were nolle prossed on February 17 by the Commonwealth after Judge George Koudelis met with the prosecutor in the case. "It was determined there was insufficient evidence in the case," Brielman said.
"The District Attorney's office blundered by publically stating that they would prosecute Mr. Marcavage to the fullest extent of the law, and are now conceding that there was no evidence. There is a videotape of everything that happened. The reason the charges were dropped is because there was no evidence, and because the District Attorney's office realized that they were battling an army of Christians who are tired of being on the short end of government oppression," Shields concluded.
Brielman said the decision to drop the Lansdowne case the same day as the dismissal of the "OutFest" charges had nothing to do with each other. "This was pure coincidence," Brielman responded.
E-MAIL THIS PAGE TO A FRIEND NOW!