All Rights reserved
The antigay activist who opened the Holy Grounds coffee shop in Springfield, Mass, said he did not know that the man he hired to be the shop's manager was a sex offender and had spent two and a half years in a New York prison for abusing an 11-year-old girl.
"He strikes me as a very kind and gentle and honorable man," shop owner Scott Lively said to The Republican, a Springfield newspaper. He added that while he was unaware that Michael Frediani, 38, was a sex offender, he asserted that "a lot of Christians are former criminals."
Frediani, who lived above the coffee shop at 453 State St. in Springfield, was arrested by police on Thursday for not registering as a Level 2 sex offender. In New York, where he was originally imprisoned, Frediani is classified as a Level 3 sex offender, indicating he is deemed highly likely to repeat his crime. Frediani told the newspaper last week that he was a born-again Christian and "a minister of Jesus."
Part of the local controversy over the shop is its proximity to the High School of Commerce, as students are lured in by free coffee, causing some to skip classes. City council member Tim Rooke said his "main concern is they are interacting with a gentleman who has very different viewpoints than most of the people in Springfield."
Lively, who has called the gay movement an "evil institution," defended the coffee shop as a religious center and not a business. He has also been affiliated with the move to make homosexuality in Uganda punishable by death.