Man Pleads Guilty to Vulgar Phone Call Against AG Herring Over Same-sex Marriage Stance
A Hampton Roads area man has pleaded guilty to curse and abuse after making a vulgar and threatening phone call to VA Attorney General Mark Herring’s Office in relation to his stance on same-sex marriage.
James Timothy Berry, 54, placed the call in early February. In an audio recording of the call released by Capital Police, you can hear Berry lashing out at the AG over a number of issues.
“I voted, and I didn’t vote for your sorry ass,” says Berry to open the voice mail.
“As far as all of you and your queerness stuff, why don’t you just go and start sucking d**** yourself,” Berry exclaims. “Queers shouldn’t be married, let them stay in the closet. And don’t call it marriage.”
All of this, while hurtful, is fairly innocuous, but after saying “goodbye” Berry managed to throw in the sentence which got him in trouble.
“And I do hope you die, but I won’t be the one to kill you,” he said.
“Nearly all of the hundreds of phone calls and thousands of emails the office received were respectful,” said Michael Kelly, AG Herring’s Director of Communications. Kelly said they received both support and opposition to the offices’ stance on same-sex marriage. However “one message was profane, vulgar, and possibly threatening to the point that it was referred to Capitol Police, per office protocols,” said Kelly in reference to the Berry phone call.
Berry was originally charged with using profane, threatening, or indecent language over public airways, however he plead guilty to the lesser charge of curse and abuse.
The ACLU of Virginia questioned the charge in general. In a statement sent to The Daily Press, Executive Director Claire Gastanaga said the Supreme Court has protected vulgar speech in the past and the specifics of this case raise constitutional questions. “Merely using certain words may not be prosecuted as a crime,” she said.
“Every hour, a crime motivated by the perpetrator’s bias against the victim occurs in the United States, and Virginia is not immune to such acts.”January 13, 2017
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