Christian activist sues Temple U. after school tries to have him committed

By Allie Martin, AFR News – March 11, 2005

(Philadelphia, PA) Testimony continues in a federal trial in which a public university in Pennsylvania is being sued because administrators tried to have a Christian student involuntarily committed to a mental hospital.

In 1999, Michael Marcavage, who was then a student at Temple University, became upset when the school sponsored the controversial play Corpus Christi, which portrays Christ and His disciples as homosexuals. School officials eventually tried to have Marcavage committed to a mental institution over his opposition to the play. Now Marcavage has sued the school, claiming his constitutional rights were violated.

Steve Crampton is chief counsel for the American Family Association’s Center for Law & Policy, which is representing Marcavage. “If Michael Marcavage really was in need of some kind of involuntary commitment, then far be it from us to stand in the way,” the attorney says. “But all our investigations, all the discovery that we’ve undertaken, and all the witnesses that we’ve talked to point very strongly in the other direction — that rather, it’s Temple University that is basically fabricating testimony to try to preserve their reputation.”

But Crampton explains those discoveries are not being allowed as evidence. He says the judge in the case is preventing that. “She ruled at the beginning of the trial, before any witnesses had taken the stand, that [the evidence] was improper — and that she would not allow testimony from the very doctors at the hospital who determined there was nothing wrong with Michael,” he says. “So in other words, you’re left with a situation where the only evidence the jury hears is from people who say that there was something wrong with Michael — and we have been prohibited in our attempts to put on any evidence to the contrary.”

Crampton says the trial could wrap up today (Friday) or early next week.