Provo Man Charged in Conference Confrontation

Provo Man Charged in Conference Confrontation

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A Provo man accused of grabbing a Mormon garment being waved by a street preacher outside the church's conference last weekend has been charged with battery and attempted theft.

Jose Basilio, 50, was arrested Sunday and spent more than 24 hours in the Salt Lake County Jail before the family was able to raise the money to post bail.

The city attorney's office charged Basilio on Wednesday with battery, a class B misdemeanor, and attempted theft, a class C misdemeanor.

Basilio's family said he cannot afford an attorney, but dozens of people have offered to donate to a defense fund.

Basilio issued a statement saying that he lost his temper when the preacher spit and stepped on the garment. He said he realizes that he acted inappropriately, but, "I never took the garment from (the street preacher) nor did I touch him in any way."

The incident was one of three Sunday that involved street preachers, who commonly picket the conferences of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, waving signs and shouting about false teachings.

Police said at least two of them were waving Mormon garments.

The white undergarments are worn by members of the church who have received a temple ordinance known as an endowment. The garment is to remind the wearer of covenants made in the temple.

About half an hour after the incident involving Basilio, a second man allegedly took a similar piece of clothing from another street preacher and was cited and released.

The street preachers were identified as Devin Allen, 24, of West Valley City, and Lonnie Pursifull, Utah director of the World Wide Street Preachers Fellowship.

Pursifull said Sunday that they were displaying the garments because they wanted to expose some of the Mormon church's lesser-known ordinances, which he believes are heretical. "We do that to show them to a lot of folks who don't know about temple works," he said.

Allen, who was involved in the first incident, said, "I was talking to some people and this man came up and tried to take this garment off my neck and pulled me to the ground. He professes to be a Mormon, a man of God. I didn't even see him -- he came up behind me."

One street preacher was cited after allegedly hitting a woman with his megaphone.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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