By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer
A self-proclaimed "street preacher" sued Xavier University on Wednesday, claiming school officials violated his free speech rights when they threatened to arrest him two years ago.
James Gilles, a traveling preacher from Northern Kentucky, accused Xavier police and administrators of preventing him from spreading his religious message outside the school's student union in October 2002.
Gilles asked a federal judge in Cincinnati to order school officials to let him speak without fear of arrest.
"Our concern is not so much what he's saying, but his right to say it," said Gilles' lawyer, David Langdon.
Gilles could not be reached, and Xavier officials said they were reviewing the lawsuit and had no comment.
In his lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, Gilles describes himself as a street preacher who has traveled to 371 college campuses in 49 states and six countries. He says his preaching style is intended to "provoke onlookers and passersby into dialog with him."
According to the suit, Xavier police objected to his preaching style and informed him that he was bothering students. A police officer and, later, Campus Police Chief Michael Couch, threatened to arrest him if he continued, the lawsuit states.
Gilles claims he was standing on a public sidewalk and that campus authorities could not legally force him to leave. He later obtained a letter from a city solicitor stating that the sidewalk was public property.
School officials were unmoved and Gilles was told he could not preach from that location.
Luken presses probe of gang
Songs of the cicadas: Oh, love is in the air
Senators want center audits
EPA head predicts cleaner air soon
IN THE TRISTATE
Bush: VP Cheney to toss 1st pitch at Reds' opener
Recount begins next week
City grants $1.3M to arts
EPA assays role in lead case
Parents' group underwrites sports programs in Franklin
Glenn talks of integrity at Miami
Green Township offers landowner $600,000 for wooded area
Top judge backs disclosure bill
Little Miami pitches expansion plans
Heimlich, Portune chastise Dowlin
Calendar changed to accommodate move
Celebration unites religions, cultures in single purpose
Law doesn't fault shooting suspect's family
State delays forcing voting-system decision
Warren Republicans split chairman's job
Housing hiatus gaining support
Street preacher sues XU over speech
Public safety briefs
Crowley: Did Bunning's so-called joke go too far?
Bronson: This grant just perfect for April 1
Terrace Park team to race for diabetes
Herbert Edelman, executive, hobbyist
Fletcher filling positions slowly, re-evaluating some
Paramedic coverage costly
Ludlow to lop school expenses
Murphy program pushes for jobs
New controls on body piercing