Man punches street preacher, judge sentences him to attend Baptist church for 12 Sundays

The judge's gavel is seen in court room 422 of the New York Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street February 3, 2012. | Reuters/Chip East

A man who got into a fight with a group of street preachers received a most peculiar sentence — to attend a Baptist church service for 12 Sundays — and the idea came from him.

Jake Strotman, a 23-year-old salesman of doors, windows and siding, enjoyed a hockey game and a few drinks with friends on the evening of Jan. 23. When they stepped outside the U.S. Bank Arena, they ran into a group of street preachers who, Strotman said, were "condemning him," 10 News reported.

Strotman walked up to them and did not think twice about letting them know his opinion.

"They were telling me I was going to hell. I was asking them: 'Why do you think you can condemn people?'" Strotman said. "I didn't understand why they thought they could judge me."

That was all it took for another man to join in and argue with the street preachers. The man apparently "started going off like a ball of fire" and ignited a very heated discussion.

The street preachers took out a camera in case they would need it if the situation became violent. The unnamed man reportedly broke the camera, at which point the street preachers said they would make a citizen's arrest.

A bit of pushing and shoving escalated into a fight, and Strotman found himself hitting a man named Joshua Johnson near the eye. Johnson suffered from a cut on his face from his broken glasses.

On May 25, Strotman and Johnson faced Judge William Mallory as he was about to give his sentence to Strotman, who was convicted of misdemeanor attempted assault.

Mallory said the salesman could go to jail for 90 days.

"I might be locking you up today," he told Strotman. However, he said he was open to suggestions on sentencing.

Not wanting to go to jail, Strotman grabbed the opportunity and told the judge that he would be "happy to serve a church of your choosing." Strotman is Catholic.

So instead of going to jail, he was sentenced to attend the service at Morning Star Baptist Church for 12 consecutive Sundays — and he must be there for the whole 90-minute service. At the end of 12 weeks, he would have sat through a total of 18 hours of Baptist preaching.

Morning Star Baptist Church has around 3,000 members. Calling itself a church that is "serious about salvation," it says it brings people closer to Jesus through discipleship.

Strotman said his sentence was "not bad."

"I think it's a nice example of hearing people out instead of getting angry and jumping to conclusions," he said. "I'm going to listen with both my ears and keep my mouth shut. Then, maybe I'll try to sell them some windows."