A 72-year-old Florida pastor facing federal criminal charges arising from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump has appeared in a preliminary hearing before a judge.
James Cusick Jr., pastor of the Global Outreach Ministries of Melbourne, Florida, faces four misdemeanor charges related to the riot, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, Reuters news agency reported.
He was the first Christian clergy member in the U.S. known to be facing the law for the Jan. 6 uprising described by some commentators as a coup attempt or by one member of the opposition Republican Party in the lower chamber of Congress as a "normal tourist visit."
The pastor's son Casey Cusick, 35, also a pastor at his father's church, faces similar charges but did not participate in the July 22 proceedings.
Pastor "Jim" Cusick and Pastor Casey Cusick, face the charges of entering a restricted building, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, TOPNews-USA reported.
GLOBAL OUTREACH CHURCH
A third man, Global Outreach church member David Lesperance, also faces charges.
The older Cusick holds credentials with the Association of Faith Churches and Ministers and actively works with the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, Patheos reported.
Casey Cusick is vice-president of Global Outreach Ministries, graduated from Rhema Bible Training College in 2014 and spent three years in Israel. The website and Facebook page of the pastors' is no longer accessible.
Investigators said they first received a tip via telephone in January, followed by an anonymous letter on March 26, alleging that Lesperance and the Cusicks had traveled from Florida to D.C. and participated in the insurrection after listening to former President Trump speak.
The FBI found surveillance footage of the three men among the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol during the riots that left five people dead and roughly 140 law enforcement officers injured.
The surveillance footage showed the three men standing inside the building as thousands of people flooded the Rotunda during the "Stop the Steal" rally that turned violent during a speech from Trump, who told his supporters the 2020 U.S. election results were fraudulent the Orlando Sentinel of June 24 reported.
More than 535 people have been charged with taking part in the mayhem.
Trump has refused to admit he lost the 2020 presidential election because of widespread electoral fraud.
The riot interrupted the formal congressional certification of President Joe Biden's victory over Trump and also led to violent threats against the then vice president Mike Pence.
The Gateway Pundit, a website that describes the new U.S. administration as "The Regime" and its main news section is labeled ProTrumpNews has a link to a fund rasier for the pastors' legal fees.
The Orlando Sentinel carried a scathing editorial on July 9 on the six-month anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection saying it "was an embarrassing milestone for Florida."
"About 60 Floridians have been arrested so far, exceeding the number of arrests from California, which has 18 million more people than Florida, and Texas, which has some 8 million more. With the national total at around 530, Florida accounts for more than 10 percent of the Jan. 6 arrests," said the editorial.
It noted, "Maybe more alarming than the arrests of radical-group misfits have been those of people who held positions of responsibility and influence in the community."
The editorial cited The Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, "who, eight months after the election, still can't bring himself to admit Joe Biden's election wasn't rigged, despite zero evidence that it was" and one of the local U.S. Senator's, Rick Scott" who voted with the mob and against democracy."
Among others mentioned in the editorial are Kenneth Reda, a P.E. teacher and football coach at a Brevard County high school.
"It is time to organize PATRIOTS we need to get together and organize against this KABAL [sic] we need to overthrow it," read one of Reda's posts on the social media site Parler said the editorial.
It also named James Cusick Jr. and his son Casey Cusick., a vice president of the church.