London

London's street preachers appear in criminal court

In a brief court appearance, Steven Ravbar and Matthew Carapella said they understood the charges against them and that they didn't yet have a lawyer.

Steven Ravbar and Matthew Carapella were charged after a church service was disrupted

Steven Ravbar, 50, and Matthew Carapella, 32, leave the Ontario Court of Justice on Monday after making a brief appearance on mischief charges. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

In a brief court appearance, Steven Ravbar and Matthew Carapella said they understood the charges against them and agreed to come back to court in two weeks. 

Ravar, 50, and Carapella, 32, have been jointly charged with mischief relating to religious property after a church service was disrupted in April. 

Police said two men inside a church on Elmwood Avenue on April 7 began yelling at female parishioners, disturbing the service. London police were called but the two men left before officers arrived. 

They were located and arrested later that night. 

The two said little during their very brief court appearance in criminal court. Carapella clutched a tattered Bible. 

The two are well known on London's streets, particularly downtown, for preaching, often using an amplified loudspeaker and wearing sandwich board-style signs with biblical messages. 

They often yell at women, calling them "whores" and questioning their attire. There were 75 complaints about the two men in the first three months of 2019, and city councillors amended a public nuisance bylaw to address "unnecessary interference with the use and enjoyment of public space" as a result of abusive or insulting language.  

Ravar and Carapella will be in provincial offences court Friday to deal with charges laid in March under the new bylaw.

They're expected to return to criminal court on June 10.

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