JUDGE ANNOUNCES SPLIT VERDICT OVER
PREACHERS’ ARRESTS IN HARRISBURG
HARRISBURG – Judge Scott Evans of the Court of Common Pleas has rendered his verdict regarding the ministers arrested in Pennsylvania’s capital. This decision is long overdue following the January 8 trial, during which time he stated he would make his decision within a few weeks. Nearly three months later, Judge Evans renders his verdict.
On April 2, Jim Grove, Pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Loganville, Pennsylvania was acquitted of both defiant trespass and disorderly conduct charges. However, Steven Garisto, an inner-city minister in Harrisburg, and Michael Marcavage, a field preacher with the Philadelphia-based REPENT AMERICA were found not guilty of defiant trespass and guilty of disorderly conduct. The Judge set the fine at $50 each. This verdict follows the acquittal of Evangelist Jim Lymon from New York during the January 8 trial.
On July 26, 2003, the ministers were arrested while evangelizing outside of South Riverfront Park, which is a public park where the annual gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgereded PrideFest event was taking place. The day-long event featured various activities, which included the sale of pornographic materials, public nudity and open lewdness, men dressed like women, and the use of obscene language over the public address system.
The ministers were not permitted inside the public park, so they remained on the sidewalk and street just outside the main entrance. It was in this public area where they were engaged in open-air preaching, one-on-one evangelism, and calling those entering to repentance, in which they were later arrested. The arresting officer, Stephanie Barrelet, a known lesbian, who was caught on video hugging other lesbian women entering the pride event, made the arrests without warning. Barrelet jailed Grove, Garisto, and Marcavage for several hours until the PrideFest event was over. Lymon, the first to be arrested, was cited and released.
“This certainly is a confusing decision considering the fact that there was absolutely no evidence to substantiate either of the charges,” stated Attorney Brown following the verdict. “We will be appealing this matter to the Superior Court and are proceeding with a Federal lawsuit,” he continued.
“The Judge’s decision is disheartening. We desire this to be resolved completely in the Superior Court,” stated Michael Marcavage. “Justice will never be found in decisions like this because the Truth is compromised to appease both sides,” he continued.