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SoulForce members plead guilty to trespassing charges

May 18, 2006

For Immediate Release

Lynchburg, Virginia

 

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 Elkins, 62.

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.
 

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