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Ohio Catholic sentenced to 12 services at Baptist church after brawl with street preachers

Central Cincinatti (AP)

An American Catholic who got into a fight with a street preacher has been sentenced to attend services at a Baptist church for 12 Sundays.

Judge William Mallory handed down the sentence to 23-year-old Jake Strotman at a court in Cincinnati last Wednesday, as an alternative to 90 days in jail for assault.

The incident occurred one evening in January after Strotman, a self-employed double glazing salesman, was on his way home after celebrating the victory of the Cincinnati Cyclones hockey team over the Fort Wayne Komets with friends in a local bar.

Strotman confronted a group of Baptist street preachers.

“They were telling me I was going to hell. I was asking them: ‘Why do you think you can condemn people?” The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

In a short time a crowd gathered and the shouting turned to blows. A camera was broken and the Baptists tried to make a citizen’s arrest.

Strotman ended up punching Johnson, who suffered a small cut to his face.

Strotman admitted he had been drinking. He said he never meant to hurt anyone.

He just wanted to understand their ministry, he said.

He was charged with low-level assault. Judge Mallory said he admired the fact that Johnson wanted to spread the word of God because he is religious too, but he didn’t approve of people trying to impose their religious beliefs on others. As Strotman had committed a crime, the judge said he was “open to suggestions” with regard to sentencing.

Strotman offered to serve a church of Johnson’s choosing.

The judge sentenced Strotman to attend 12 consecutive 90 minute Sunday services at Morning Star Baptist Church. He also paid $480 in court fines and a  $2,800 legal bill.

On leaving court, Strotman told the Cincinatti Enquirer he was satisfied with his sentence.

“Three months, that’s not that bad,” he said. “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,” he said. “Then, maybe I’ll try to sell them some windows.”