Judge Asks Board to Cease Prayer & Plaintiff to Reveal Herself
Reporter: James Gherardi l Videographer: Jonathan Merryman
Chatham, VA - Who is Jane Doe? That's the question now on everyone's mind following a preliminary ruling by a federal judge regarding prayer in Pittsylvania County.
Following motions from both the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors and the ACLU, the judge ruled that all prayer referencing Jesus be stopped while the lawsuit is pending. The judge also said in order for the case to continue the plaintiff, only known as Jane Doe, would have to reveal her identity.
"I think the people would like to know who the complainer is as well as myself. I think that needs to be out there. Jane Doe, we don't even know if there is a Jane Doe, that's what the ACLU says," said Tim Barber, the chairman for the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors.
For months now, the woman behind the litigation that has gripped this county's board of supervisors has eluded an identity.
"We perceived a great degree of hostility towards the issue and the lawsuit and were concerned for her well being and safety," said Rebecca Glenberg, the legal director for the Virginia ACLU.
The ACLU legal team says given the nature of the case, anonymity was their only option. They believe the plaintiff's safety is at constant risk.
"It's certainly not the case that everyone who has been expressing hostility towards this case knows who she is. So it's one thing for a few people to know and another thing for the entire general public to know," said Glenberg.
But now following a ruling by federal Judge Mike Urbanski, Jane Doe may become a person of the past. Urbanski gave Jane Doe 30 days to come forward with her identity, appeal the ruling, or drop the case.
"I had mixed feelings. We got the temporary injunction, but on the other note, I'm glad they're going to disclose who Jane Doe is. Or they'll drop the suit. That's our hope, that they'll just drop the lawsuit," said Barber.
In a statement to ABC 13 News on Friday, Bill Stanley, the board's attorney, said he was extremely pleased with the judge's decision of asking Jane Doe to come forward.
The supervisors plan to obey the injunction, and they don't plan on praying before their next meeting.