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members plead guilty to trespassing charges
May 18, 2006
For Immediate Release
Twenty-three members of the activist group SoulForce
pleaded guilty to trespassing upon the property of Liberty University on
March 10, 2006. The group’s attorney, John Falcone, appeared in Lynchburg
General District Court on May 18, 2006 and entered pleas of guilty to each
of the trespassing charges.
The defendants included Jacob Reitan, 24, Katherine Henshaw, 19, Erin Neff,
20, Katherine Riley, 21, David Durand, 26, David Coleman, 23, Jamie St.
Ledger, 28, Darren Maczka, 25, Chase Sisk, 21, Samuel Gravitt, 25, Diane
Bedwell, 24, Kevin MuMaugh, 22, Seth Croft, 21, Megan Sneed, 23, Angel
Collie, 20, Jacob Neal, 21, Allison O’Dea, 19, Matthew Comer, 20, Jeremy
Kidd, 22, Justin Fore, 19, Thomas Atz, 26, Pamela Disel, 26, and Cristy
In exchange for their pleas of guilty, each defendant was sentenced to pay a
$200.00 fine. Two leaders of the group – Jacob Reitan, 24, and William
Carpenter, 53 – pleaded guilty to separate charges of instigating a trespass
and received a six-month suspended jail sentence.
The charges stemmed from an incident on March 10, 2006 when SoulForce’s
“Equality Ride” made its first stop at Liberty University. Prior to the
group’s arrival, Liberty University advised SoulForce that they would not be
permitted on University property. Members of the Liberty University Police
Department met with the group prior to their planned demonstration and
advised them that they were permitted to conduct their demonstration on the
public sidewalk adjacent to University Boulevard, but would be arrested for
trespassing if they came onto the property of Liberty University. During the
demonstration, twenty-three members of the group walked onto Liberty
University property while reading from a prepared statement. As they did so,
Liberty University police officers advised them that they were trespassing
and asked them to leave. Each individual was arrested and charged with
trespass after refusing to leave.