After a five-year battle—which culminated in a 6-day jury trial in federal court—Candlehouse Teen Challenge will finally have the opportunity to open the doors of its property in Vestal, New York, to minister to women who are trying to overcome life-controlling issues. “This is a tremendous victory and vindication for this organization, and we are pleased that the jury recognized the injustice suffered by Candlehouse and returned a verdict that will permit Candlehouse to resume its important mission,” said Abigail Southerland, ACLJ Litigation Counsel.
When Candlehouse first approached the Town of Vestal in 2008 about its intention to buy a local church property for its Christian residential program, Town officials gave every indication that the proposed use would be approved. When neighboring residents of the property began to loudly voice their opposition to Candlehouse’s plans, however, the Town officials adopted the unfounded fears of the neighbors, reversed course, and, over the next two years repeatedly denied Candlehouse’s requests for approval of its residential program.
Unable to utilize its property for its ministry purposes, Candlehouse, represented by the ACLJ, filed suit in federal court based on the Town’s blatant discrimination against it and its students. Tuesday afternoon, after hearing over a week of testimony, including admissions by Town officials that they were biased against Candlehouse because the women served by the ministry would be recovering from addictions, the jury returned a verdict fully in favor of Candlehouse.
Specifically, the jury found that the Town intentionally discriminated against Candlehouse in the process of applying its local zoning laws and then failed to grant Candlehouse a reasonable accommodation, as required by federal non-discrimination laws, that would allow Candlehouse’s students to reside on the property.
According to ACLJ Litigation Counsel Carly Gammill, “This verdict not only allows Candlehouse to re-open its doors to hurting women in need of ministry and healing, but sends a clear message that should deter other governmental bodies from allowing their decisions to be influenced by the ‘not in my backyard’ attitude.”
This article was written by ACLJ Attorneys Abigail Southerland and Carly Gammill.
Senator Mitch McConnell (KY), the Senate Majority leader, has heard our demand for action and reform. He has just removed an archaic procedural rule that has been misused by the left to block conservative federal judicial nominees from ever getting a vote—or even a hearing. It is called the Senate...
Fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee accomplished one thing: With his testimony, Comey’s case against President Trump collapsed like a house of cards. Not only did Comey’s testimony clear President Trump – admitting under oath that the President was...
Former FBI Director James Comey is preparing to tell his side of the story before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday regarding his encounter with President Trump. His prepared remarks were released today – and make no mistake about it – this is Comey’s opportunity to get back in the...
President Donald Trump has just fired FBI Director James Comey. President Trump’s letter states that Comey is “not able to effectively lead the Bureau.” President Trump's action is not only appropriate, but represents the correct action taken against Comey who has become a renegade FBI Director.