It's a "not guilty" verdict for Montgomery County Pastor William Devlin, who was arrested over the summer after trying to visit Attorney General Kathleen Kane's office to pray for her to change her mind and defend a state law that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Devlin, who lives in Lower Moreland, was charged with disorderly conduct on July 12 after he attempted to ride an elevator up to Kane's Harrisburg office, which is normally only accessible to employees of the Attorney General's Office or visitors who have signed in at a security desk and approved to go inside.
The way Capitol Police Lt. Gerald Devlin (no relation to the pastor) described it Tuesday, the pastor was doing more than just praying when he arrested him.
When he arrived at the scene, Lt. Devlin said, he found Devlin "lying down in an elevator ... hands behind his head, in a relaxed state." When the officer asked the pastor to leave, he refused. The elevator, meanwhile, had been shut down by another Capitol Police officer who was blocking Devlin from riding up to Kane's office.
Devlin (the pastor) eventually was carried out of the downtown building that houses the Attorney General's Office, and later charged with disorderly conduct rather than the more serious offense of trespassing.
"I cringed at charging that to a pastor and having that on his record," the Capitol police officer testified Tuesday.
Stewart, the district judge, had this to say: "You're in a public place downtown, high security - you don't do that."
"You want to protest outside the Capitol, like everybody else, go do that," she said. "I'm going to find you not guilty this time. Just don't do it."
But Devlin, who is cochair of a group called Right to Worship, is making no promises.
After the hearing, he said he would not rule out trying to pray again for Kane, who has said she cannot ethically defend the state in a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage.
"Where is my relief, as a private citizen, against rogue elected officials who openly disobey the law," asked Devlin, who said he will likely file suit against Kane, as well as Montgomery County Register of Willis D. Bruce Hanes, who began issuing same sex marriage in July in violation of state law.
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