Texas Court Dismisses Charge Against Evangelist Preaching Outside a Drag Show
El Paso, TX—A public evangelist criminally charged for preaching in downtown El Paso received news from the El Paso County Court that the charges were dismissed, after Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) aggressively advocated for his free speech rights.
James Denton, an ordained minister with an M.Div from a Baptist seminary, frequently shares the Gospel on public sidewalks and often stands on the sidewalk outside of Plaza Theatre. On prior occasions, police officers and theater security directed Denton to that location on the sidewalk to conduct his preaching.
In December 2017, Denton stood outside the theater on a step-stool to preach as people entered “A Drag Queen Christmas: The Naughty Tour” event. Law enforcement approached Denton to notify him that he stood on private property without the owner’s consent. When Denton remained on the sidewalk to continue his preaching, the officers arrested him on the charge of trespass.
PJI filed a Motion to Dismiss Criminal Prosecution on Denton’s behalf. Attorney Brad Dacus, founder and president of PJI, represented Denton in court, appearing at hearings and proactively contacting the District Attorney’s office. After several communications with the prosecutor, Dacus successfully convinced the prosecutor to move the Court, under “prosecutorial discretion,” to drop the charges before trial.
“I am honored to represent this evangelist who simply seeks to proclaim truth and love from God’s Word, no matter how unpopular the message is to the public,” Dacus commented. “We are committed to defending First Amendment rights, as we see a continued increase in requests from public evangelists who are deprived of those rights across the country.”
Within the past two years, PJI has taken on active and recent cases defending public evangelists in California, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington State.
Media Contact: Brad Dacus, 916-616-4126 (Spanish: 206-257-3239)