LAGRANGE — A man accused of demonic possession by fellow churchgoers during an incident at a LaGrange church last winter was sentenced today in Elyria Municipal Court.
John Andel, 24, entered a no contest plea to two counts of disorderly conduct persisting before Judge Gary C. Bennett, who then found Andel guilty on both counts. Andel was fined $250 on each count, and sentenced to 30 days in jail. Bennett suspended the jail sentence, and $200 of the fines. Andel was also placed on three years’ probation. A third charge of disorderly conduct by intoxication was dismissed.
The man was originally charged with two counts of assault and one count of disorderly conduct by intoxication following a Jan. 20 incident in which he kicked and punched a married couple seated in front of him during a Bible study class at LaGrange Church of God on North Center Street, police said.
Andel’s mother, Karen Andel, termed claims by church members in police reports that her son “was possessed by a demon” as “ridiculous.”
The woman, who was at the Bible study session, indicated her son had suffered a seizure and had suffered one prior to the Jan. 20 episode as part of a medical problem he was contending with.
The church’s pastor, Daniel Wright, also disagreed with claims of possession cited in police reports. Wright also said he believed Andel was “having a fit, like a seizure.”
Wright said Andel began wailing and throwing himself around and did not deliberately assault the couple. Andel was attended to by some parishioners, who also prayed for the man, until police arrived.
LaGrange Police Chief Daniel Moore said Andel had an odor of alcohol when officers showed up and found church members holding Andel on the floor. One church member reportedly told police he had been bit by Andel, police said. Reports indicated police also found blood and a hole in a wall near where the reported assault occurred.