In Ohio, Judge William Mallory is known for handing out creative sentences from his Hamilton County Courthouse bench, but one ruling he issued last week has attracted much attention. Instead of sending Jake Strotman to jail on a misdemeanor for an attempted assault conviction, Mallory sent the 23-year-old Catholic to a Baptist church for the next 12 Sundays.
Another interesting part of this Municipal Court room outcome is that it was Strotman's idea.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the incident started on a Saturday night, Jan. 23, just after the Cincinnati Cyclones beat the Fort Wayne Komets at U.S. Bank Arena.
Strotman had imbibed with his buddies at the hockey game, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, and approached a band of Baptist street preachers who were, as he puts it, condemning him. Strotman said he gave them his two-cents worth.
"They were telling me I was going to hell,'' Strotman said Thursday. "I was asking them: 'Why do you think you can condemn people?' I didn't understand why they thought they could judge me."
Another man approached the church folks. This man, Strotman said, "started going off like a ball of fire." There was screaming and threats before that guy broke a camera that the church members brought. The church folks threatened to make a citizen's arrest, which sparked pushing and shoving.
Strotman said he somehow ended up at the bottom of a pile and "was eating asphalt." He said he pushed himself up with one hand, and planted another hand on the face of Joshua Johnson, who had just been preaching the word of God. Johnson's face was apparently cut by his glasses. Strotman was charged with low-level assault.
Strotman said he never meant to hurt anyone; he just wanted to understand their ministry.
Mallory reportedly asked Strotman about his drinking that January night, to which the man admitted. Mallory stated 90 days in jail was "on the table," and that his bailiff was prepared to lock him up. But the judge also said he believed religion is "personal."
Mallory addressed Johnson, saying he was trying to be reasonable. "I'll be honest with you guys, sometimes in certain places, people don't want to be preached to. You agree with that right?" Johnson said he did.
"I admire the fact you want to spread the word of God, because I'm a religious man, too,'' Mallory said. "Also the thing about religion, I don't try to impose my religious views on other people except for sometimes in this room."
When it came to sentencing Strotman, a self-employed salesman of windows, siding and doors, Mallory said he was open to suggestions. Strotman interjected: "Your honor, if I may, I would be more than happy to serve a church of your choosing."
Mallory asked Johnson: "So for his penance, what if I make him go to your church a number of Sunday services?"
Strotman then was sentenced to attend 12 consecutive Sunday services at Morning Star Baptist Church. He was ordered to attend each, entire 90-minute service. He must get the weekly program signed by the minister. He also paid $480 in court fines and a $2,800 lawyer bill.
Strotman said he thinks the sentence is a nice example of hearing people out instead of getting angry and jumping to conclusions.