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Florida pastor facing US Capitol riot charges has court hearing


WASHINGTON (AP) – A 72-year-old Florida pastor facing federal criminal charges stemming from the Jan.6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump participated in a preliminary hearing Thursday before a judge.
James Cusick Jr, pastor of Melbourne, Florida, Global Outreach Ministries, faces four misdemeanor charges related to the riot, including trespassing and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds. His 35-year-old son Casey Cusick, also a pastor at his father’s church, faces similar charges but did not participate in Thursday’s hearing.
One of his parishioners, David Lesperance, 69, also faces similar charges. Lesperance did not participate in the hearing.
According to a FBI Affidavit, Lesperance told investigators that their pastor had attended Trump’s speech before the riots and then went to the Capitol building.
More than 535 people have been accused of participating in the riots. Trump has made false claims that he lost the 2020 presidential election due to widespread election fraud. The riot interrupted the formal Congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s victory over Trump.
An FBI affidavit describing the case against James Cusick includes photographs purporting to show him inside the Capitol during the riot and of him standing outside Trump’s Washington hotel the day before. He is the first clergyman known to have been charged in the riot.
Cusick has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is free on bail. John Pierce, an attorney for Cusick, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
At Thursday’s hearing, a prosecutor told the U.S. district judge. Randolph Moss that the consolidation of the cases of Cusick, his son and Lesperance was being considered. An additional hearing for James Cusick was set for September 28.

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