- Woman Wins Trespassing Judgment Against Jehovah's Witness
- Miscellaneous News
Published: Thursday, May 03, 2001
Posted on 05/03/2001 14:15:10 PDT by Buffalo Bob
CLEONA, Pa. — A woman who said she repeatedly told Jehovah's Witnesses to stay off her property won a $632 judgment against one of them who showed up at her door and woke her up anyway.
Jennie Basiago was awarded the money by a local district justice after filing a civil trespassing complaint against Bernadine DiStefano, a member of the Palmyra Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Basiago said followers of the religion came to her home every few months for 12 years and she called two Kingdom Halls in October and threatened legal action if the visits continued.
But two Jehovah's Witnesses awakened the late-shift worker in February after driving down a 300-foot lane past eight no-trespassing signs and three dog-warning signs, Basiago said.
"I just reached my limit," Basiago said.
DiStefano said the visit was an accident. Basiago was on a list of homeowners who had requested no visits, but officials in East Hanover Township assigned new addresses in the area and the list was not updated.
The defendant told District Justice Michael Smith she was driving and did not see the no-trespassing signs until Basiago pointed them out. She said Basiago was "enraged" at her and a woman accompanying her, and cursed at them.
DiStefano said she and other Jehovah's Witnesses go door-to-door to discuss the Bible with people and "give them hope for the future."
"That is our purpose -- not to harass her," DiStefano said.
Basiago had sought $8,000 in damages, but Smith awarded her $40 for each of the two days she spent researching DiStefano's identity and a day for lost sleep, then added that to the $395 penalty for trespass under criminal statutes, plus court costs. DiStefano said she had not decided if she would appeal.