GALLIPOLIS — A Bidwell man was charged Wednesday with fifth-degree inducing panic after placing a contentious letter to the front door of a local church.
Steven Wellington, 59, was arrested Tuesday afternoon after being located in Gallipolis City Park, according to Gallipolis Police Chief Jeff Boyer. Officers were able to identify Wellington from previous incidents which had concerned citizens in the county.
Workers at First Baptist Church, which is also home to Ohio Valley Christian School, reportedly discovered the note on the door of the building Friday morning. Officers conducted extra patrols around the property until Wellington was collected. Some families reportedly did not attend church over the weekend and some families also pulled their students from class.
“We took it seriously,” Boyer said. “The church asked for some extra officers.”
According to the complaint, the said offense resulted in “attendance and offerings being greatly impacted well in excess of $1,000.”
“The sign in front of the church was threatening, disturbing to the congregation, parents and students and caused serious public inconvenience or alarm,” said Gallia Prosecutor Jeff Adkins. “The school and church were concerned to the point that they felt the need to pay extra money for law enforcement to patrol church and school activities out of fear that someone would return to possibly do harm. Members of the church congregation, students, parents of students, teachers and staff should enjoy a feeling of safety and that was compromised by the defendant’s actions.”
Wellington had a hearing Thursday morning and was assigned at $50,000 with a 10 percent surety bond and was ordered to seek a mental evaluation, as well as not to be within 100 yards of the First Baptist Church or Ohio Valley Christian School properties.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.