Xavier University Sued By Evangelist

by Gene Cox, gcox@FOX19.com

A Northern Kentucky travelling college campus evangelist is sueing Xavier University.  Jim Gilles claims in the federal suit filed Friday in Cincinnati that the school's police department had no right to throw him off a public sidewalk.  Gilles recorded conversations that took place during the October 2002 incident along Herald Avenue.  In those recordings campus police officers, including Chief Michael Couch, tell Gilles because the school installed decorative cobblestone on the sidewalk that that makes the sidewalk private property.  In the lawsuit Gilles claims information from the City of Cincinnati Solicitor, the City Engineer's Office, and a survey all point to the fact that the sidewalks on Herald Avenue are still public property.  Along most roadways there is a utility easement and in this case, according to the city there is a 13 foot easement.  A Xavier University spokesperson says the case is still under review and that they're reserving comment for now.  Gilles says this is the first time in his 21 year career that a private university has insisted a public sidewalk is private.  The federal lawsuit is seeking unspecified monetary damages and the restoration of Gilles' Constitutional rights to speak freely in a public place.