Elderly Pastor and Son Arrested for Entering Capitol on Jan. 6, Stripped of Firearms and Freedom to Travel After Release


While the Jan. 6 incursion into the Capitol certainly included some dangerous people engaging in destructive behavior, not every person in the Capitol that day can be considered a “domestic terrorist.” Two recent arrests made as a result of the event underline that fact.

According to Florida Today, a 72-year-old pastor named Jim Cusick and his son Casey, 35, were arrested Thursday. They face charges of knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority, disorderly conduct in a restricted building, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Another member of the church, 69-year-old David Lesperance, admitted he was with them and was also arrested. The three appeared at the U.S. District Court in Orlando, and a court spokesperson said they were each released on $25,000 bonds.

A so-called “unnamed tipster” told the FBI on Jan. 22 about the Cusicks’ involvement in the Jan. 6 incursion. In March, a second tipster said Lesperance was with them, Florida Today reported.

When the FBI confronted Lesperance, he “admitted that his pastor was also present at President Trump’s speech and then at the U.S. Capitol afterwards.”

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Although Lesperance told the FBI he had deleted photos they had taken that day, the bureau used a warrant to access Lesperance’s iCloud account and recover pictures of both him and the Cusicks inside the Capitol building.

This entire process seems invasive. This is not to suggest that the FBI actually infringed upon any rights, as these three men did break the law by entering the Capitol building.

With that said, was it truly necessary for the FBI to use anonymous tipsters and deleted photographs to identify three of the men inside the Capitol that day? The whole process conjures up images of the Gestapo.

If these three men engaged in particularly destructive behavior, the FBI would certainly be justified in going to these lengths to track them down. But if their only crime was entering the Capitol building without permission, that would not merit such extensive law enforcement efforts.

Do these three men deserve to be treated like domestic terrorists?

One picture provided by Florida Today shows Casey Cusick standing among a crowd of people inside the Capitol. He does not appear to be engaging in any destructive behavior but rather is seen standing somewhat aimlessly and looking around.

In addition, Jim Cusick’s résumé hardly sounds like that of a domestic terrorist. He founded a church in Melbourne, Florida, called Go Ministries, where he serves a pastor.

“Jim Cusick holds ministerial credentials with the Association of Faith Churches and Ministers, under the leadership of Jim and Kathleen Kaseman,” his bio on the church’s website reads.

“He is heavily involved in Israel and Russia, working with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. He has spent the last twenty years traveling all over Europe helping Jews make Aliyah back to Israel.”

This does not absolve Cusick from responsibility for any crimes he committed, including entering the Capitol unlawfully. Yet unless there is evidence showing he engaged in further crimes besides entering the building, he does not appear to be an imminent threat who needs to be closely monitored by the FBI.

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In addition to the $25,000 bonds, Lesperance and both Cusicks were subjected to extremely strict release conditions, which included “submitting to DNA collection, no possession of firearms, surrender of any passports, and travel restricted to the Middle District of Florida and the District of Columbia for court appearances,” Florida Today reported.

Are these three men really such a threat that they need to be subjected to those conditions? At least according to currently available evidence, the answer would appear to be no.

No criminal act should go without punishment in this country, and these men should certainly face consequences for breaking the law. But the punishment should also fit the crime, and that condition may not have been satisfied in this case.

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Grant is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He has five years of writing experience with various outlets and enjoys covering politics and sports.
Grant is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He has five years of writing experience with various outlets and enjoys covering politics and sports.