Religious freedom is under attack in this country. Nowhere is this attack more defined than the malicious persecution of EllenBeth Wachs by Polk County, Florida, Sheriff Grady Judd.
EllenBeth, an activist for the separation of church and state, had, earlier this year, challenged Sheriff Judd, an outspoken evangelical Christian, over the illegal transfer of taxpayer property to local churches, which he had orchestrated in a politically motivated public relations stunt.
Additionally, she discovered, through her Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to Sheriff Judd, that Judd had illegally used his sheriff department’s credit card and other taxpayer resources for this purpose.
In retaliation over a dozen of Sheriff Judd’s deputies, in SWAT tactical gear, descended on EllenBeth’s home in March. She was arrested on felony charges, jailed, her home searched and personal items and documents seized. Why? Because EllenBeth, a retired attorney, had used the letters “Esq.” (an honorific used by both practicing and retired attorneys) after her name on those FOIA requests to the sheriff.
Among the items that deputies took in the search were incriminating documents sent by a sheriff’s department employee in response to EllenBeth’s FOIA requests. Moreover, the search included rummaging through areas that had nothing to do with the practice of law: searching her underwear drawer, her medical supplies, turning over her bed mattress, looking under chair cushions, probing into her cars as well as into her employees’ cars and purses, while holding them at gunpoint.
Then again in May, she was dragged from her home, arrested and jailed, including a week of solitary confinement, on another trumped up felony charge based on a neighbor’s alleged report that he had heard a sexual sound coming from the privacy of her home 48 days prior.
EllenBeth currently faces the possibility of years in prison. Most incredulously, no one has ever been arrested, charged, let alone convicted on the allegations that have been leveled at her in these charges.
Clearly, EllenBeth has been maliciously persecuted for standing up against the sheriff in her campaign to secure her -- and our -- religious freedoms.
But she is fighting back and you can help her by signing this petition and passing it on to everyone you know.
- United States Congressman
US Senator Bill Nelson (Florida)
- Board of County Commissioners - Polk County, Florida
- US Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
- US Commission on Civil Rights - Southern Regional Office
Peter Minarik, Director
I just signed the following petition addressed to: US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
Sheriff Grady Judd Must Stop His Religious Persecution of EllenBeth Wachs
As a government official, you are obligated to defend, protect and uphold the constitutional rights of all citizens within your sphere of responsibility.
In this regard, I ask that you to act in whatever way possible to stop Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd’s religiously motivated persecution of EllenBeth Wachs, a resident of Polk County, Florida.
Sheriff Judd, as the chief law enforcement officer of Polk County, has used his position, influence and resources in a malicious attempt to silence and intimidate Ms. Wachs because she dared challenge him over his illegal transfer of taxpayer property for political gain. Through Freedom of Information Act requests, Ms. Wachs had further discovered that Sheriff Judd had used his department’s credit card and other taxpayer resources to directly benefit several local churches in a politically motivated public relations stunt.
In response, Sheriff Judd has twice this year arrested and jailed Ms. Wachs on clearly trumped up charges. She currently faces the possibility of years in prison for doing something that no one in U.S. history has ever been arrested, charged, let alone convicted on the felonies that she has been charged with.
Ms. Wachs’ first arrest, on March 3, 2011, conducted by over a dozen of Sheriff Judd’s SWAT equipped deputies, was because Ms. Wachs, who is a retired attorney, had used the letters “Esq.” after her name in those FOIA requests to the sheriff. For this she was dragged out of her home, jailed and her home searched.
The second arrest, occurring on May 1, 2011, was based on a neighbor’s report that he had allegedly heard a sexual sound coming from Ms. Wachs’ home 48 days prior. Again, she was dragged out of her home and this time jailed in solitary confinement for a week while awaiting a bail hearing.
To turn a blind eye to Sheriff Judd’s use of his position to persecute and silence a citizen who is simply insuring that the sheriff abides by the constitutions of the United States and the State of Florida is to agree with -- and be complicit with – his ruthlessly unethical if not criminal behavior.
By stepping forward to safeguard Ms. Wachs’ rights, which have been egregiously violated, you are safeguarding my rights, yours and the rights of all Americans.
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