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Christian Preacher Wins Lawsuit Wrongful Arrest

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Tuesday Apr 1, 2014

A Christian street preacher won £13,000 ($21,600 USD) after a three-year battle against the Greater Manchester Police, whom he said wrongfully imprisoned him for 19 hours after he allegedly harassed two gay teens via reading scripture.

The U.K. Daily Mail reports that in 2011, 57-year-old John Craven was approached by two gay teens who asked him about his views on homosexuality.

"Two young lads asked me what God thinks of homosexuals," Craven told the Daily Mail. "I told them whilst God hates sin, he loves the sinner and that according to the word of God homosexuality is an abomination. That is not my opinion, it is the word of God."

"I quoted them Revelation chapter 21, verse eight, 'But for the cowardly, unbelieving, sinners, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their part is in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death,'" he continued. "This made them upset and they started to do obscene gestures to me. They were trying to provoke me."

The Telegraph reports the two boys began kissing in front of Craven, before approaching a mounted policeman and claiming that the preacher was harassing them.

Police arrested him for committing a public order offense, and told he was being investigated for allegedly using insulting words with the intent of causing harassment, alarm or distress. It carried with it the penalty of a six-month jail sentence.

Craven told the Daily Mail that he was taken to a police cell where he was denied food, water and access to medication for his rheumatoid arthritis. He said he was fingerprinted, a sample of his DNA was taken, and then he was forgotten for two days, until police released him with no charges or further action taken.

But Craven decided to take action of his own. He sued for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment and breach of human rights. This week, he was awarded £13,000 in compensation in an out-of-court settlement after a three-year battle that cost the taxpayers more than £50,000 in legal expenses.

"I never intended to cause anyone harassment, alarm or distress," he told the Telegraph. "In fact, quite the opposite. I preach the gospel which means good news and the love of God for all."

Supt Alan Greene, of Greater Manchester Police, said he could not go into further details, but said, "We can acknowledge that we did make mistakes and kept the claimant in custody for too long."

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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