VENTURA COUNTY

Judge Denies Request to Shut Ventura County Church That Defied Health Order

The judge denied the county's request to shut the church but scheduled a hearing on the contempt claim for Aug. 21.

A judge declined Tuesday to order the immediate closure of a Southern California church that held indoor worship services despite a temporary restraining order barring it from doing so.

Ventura County had asked Judge Vincent O'Neill to hold Rob McCoy, pastor of Godspeak Calvary Chapel, in contempt of court and direct the Sheriff’s Office to close the church.

O'Neill denied the county's request to shut the church but scheduled a hearing on the contempt claim for Aug. 21.

McCoy told the Ventura County Star that he considered the judge to be “measured and balanced.”

County Counsel Leroy Smith said he was pleased that the judge scheduled the contempt hearing.

McCoy led three services last Sunday at Godspeak in defiance of health mandates and last week's restraining order by another judge that cited “an immediate threat to public health and safety due to the 2019 novel coronavirus.”

The hearing was before Judge Vincent O’Neill and not Judge Matthew Guasco, the magistrate who granted a temporary restraining order against the church Aug. 7. Before the hearing, attorneys for the Newbury Park church filed a challenge to request that a different judge hear the matter.

Under California law, this can generally be done once without showing any cause.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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