Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — A municipal court in Philadelphia has dismissed a disorderly conduct charge against a preacher that was cited for being flashed by a female heckler.
Following notification today in court that the prosecution has no interest in pursuing the case, Judge Jackie Frazier-Lyde, daughter of renowned boxer Joe Frazier, dismissed the charge against evangelist Mike Stockwell of Cross Country Evangelism. Officer Thomas Ohm, who issued the citation, was also present at today’s hearing and stated that he likewise wished to drop the matter.
As previously reported, on August 1oth, Stockwell and three other Christians set out to engage in evangelistic activity on South Street in Philadelphia, a popular downtown area known for its bars, Wiccan and New Age shops and sexually-oriented businesses.
“We were having a great night lifting up Jesus on South Street, with many tracts going out and Mike Stockwell was declaring God’s word,” stated Joseph Toy Jr. of Open Air Campaigners, who accompanied Stockwell during the outreach.
However, approximately 20 minutes after the men arrived, police confronted Stockwell and the others, noting that a cheesesteak restaurant owner complained about their presence. Lieutenant Thomas McLean later explained to the men, “He came up to me and he’s like, ‘Can you get these guys out of here?’”
“It is by faith you are saved, not of yourselves. It is a gift,” Stockwell preached. “Cry out to God today that he would give you repentance to believe.”
As Stockwell spoke, a young female heckler approached him and bent to the ground, mockingly bowing down. Then, as she rose up, she asked Stockwell if he would like to see her breasts and exposed herself.
McLean, who was standing next to him, immediately grabbed into Stockwell to stop him from speaking.
“She’s showing herself, sir,” Stockwell advised with concern.
“Come on down, that’s it,” McLean said. “Disorderly conduct at this point.”
Stockwell said he thought at first that the officer was referring to the woman, but realized seconds later that McLean was talking about him.
Stockwell, shocked, exclaimed, “She did [it], sir!”
“A girl comes up and exposes her breast to him, I mean, that’s disorderly conduct,” McLean opined.
“You’re drawing a crowd, and that young lady exposing herself, that ended it. Once you cross that boundary of freedom of speech in drawing a malicious or out-of-order crowd, that’s when we have to stop it,” explained Officer Thomas Ohm.
“I thought it was ridiculous,” Stockwell told Christian News Network. “What was I doing that was disorderly?”
When those with Stockwell inquired from the police as to why the woman was not cited for disorderly conduct instead, the officer replied that her actions were not unlawful.
“It’s technically not a crime,” stated Officer Ohm. “Legally, women are allowed to walk around with no shirt on.”
“You’re done. You’re out of here,” the officers declared. “If you go to another corner and have anyone complaining about it, you will go to jail.”
“They just wanted us to leave,” Stockwell explained.
“The police had no interest in her,” Toy added. “They seemed to be wanting to get an excuse to get rid of us. … They didn’t want to defend our rights. They just didn’t want to deal with the situation.”
Stockwell still has a hearing on December 5th for a second charge relating to his outreach that evening, which has been assigned to a separate court.