In an unusual ruling, an Ohio judge has sentenced a Catholic man to attend Baptist church services for 12 Sundays after he assaulted a Baptist street preacher last January.
During the hearing at the Hamilton County Courthouse in Ohio, Judge William Mallory found 23-year-old Jake Strotman guilty of a misdemeanour for his attempted assault on Baptist street preacher Joshua Johnson on Jan. 23 after the Cincinnati Cyclones hockey team beat the Fort Wayne Komets at U.S. Bank Arena, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The judge said he based the sentence he imposed on Strotman's own idea.
During the night of the assault, Strotman approached the street preachers, who he said were condemning him. In return, he said he "gave them my two-cents worth."
"They were telling me I was going to hell,'' said Strotman on Thursday. "I was asking them: 'Why do you think you can condemn people?' I didn't understand why they thought they could judge me."
A man approached the preachers and a fight ensued. The man broke a camera that the church members brought to record if there was a case of violence or fights.
Strotman ended up at the bottom of the pile and as he pushed himself up, he landed a hand on Johnson's face that resulted in the preacher suffering a cut in the face apparently from his broken eyeglasses. Strotman was charged with low-level assault because of the incident.
He admitted to the judge that he had been drinking during the night of the assault.
"I have gone to a few Cyclones games, but I never had a fight at a Cyclones game. No, I haven't. So all right. What am I supposed to do? Because 90 days in jail is on the table," the judge said.
The judge told Johnson, "I'm trying to get to something reasonable here. And I'll be honest with you guys, sometimes in certain places people don't want to be preached to. You agree with that right?"
"I admire the fact that you want to spread the word of God because I'm a religious man, too,'' Judge Mallory said. "Also the thing about religion, I think it is kind of personal and for me I don't try to impose my religious views on other people except for sometimes in this room."
Judge Mallory then said he is open to suggestions as to Strotman's punishment.
Strotman told the judge, "Your honour, if I may, I would be more than happy to serve a church of your choosing."
Addressing Johnson, the judge said, "So for his penance, what if I make him go to your church a number of Sunday services?"
He then sentenced Strotman to attend the Morning Star Baptist Church for 12 Sundays and each time, he has to finish the 90-minute service.
Strotman must also get the weekly programme signed by the church minister.
In addition, he paid $480 in court fines and a $2,800 in lawyer's fee.
Strotman said the sentence was "not that bad.''
"I think it's a nice example of hearing people out instead of getting angry and jumping to conclusions. I'm going to listen with both my ears and keep my mouth shut. Then, maybe I'll try to sell them some windows," he said.