By: E&P Staff
As protests outside the hospice housing Terri Schiavo in her final days mounted last week, numerous newspaper reports, many based on an Associated Press account, mentioned or quoted 10-year-old Joshua Heldreth and/or his father, Scott Heldreth. Josh was one of several youngsters arrested for crossing police lines in Pinellas Park, Fla., in an effort to take water to Schiavo.
None of the stories revealed that Scott Heldreth, a religious activist and anti-abortion crusader, is a registered sex offender in Florida– until The Charlotte Observer mentioned it on Sunday.
A widely published AP story on Sunday by Allen G. Breen had painted a warmer picture of the Heldreths, noting that it was young Josh who insisted that his father take him to the protests from their home in North Carolina, not the other way around. ?God?s with me,? Josh said.
The article continued: ?Scott Heldreth, a veteran of the Operation Rescue and Operation Save America campaigns against abortion, didn’t intend to join this fight, until his son asked to be brought to Pinellas Park. ?My wife and I, we felt like if God really put it on his heart, we should come down, to allow him to live out what God had put on his heart,? says Heldreth, a carpenter.?
The story said some of the children at the protest carried signs accusing Terry Schiavo?s husband of murdering her and urging that he be sent to jail.
The Charlotte Observer story, however, revealed that Heldreth had pleaded guilty to sexual battery, was in jail for parts of 1992 and 1993, according to court records, and served time on probation.
?The former Naperville, Fla., resident remains listed on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s sex offender registry,? the Observer reported, ?but he’s not registered on North Carolina’s; the N.C. equivalent applies to offenders convicted on or after Jan. 1, 1996.?
According to the story, Heldreth claimed that his religious beliefs came to him while in jail. Before then, he said, “I basically agreed with everyone trying to kill Terri Schiavo.” Then, he said, he accepted Christ and turned his life around.
Heldreth declined to discuss the specifics of the incident that led to his jail time. Online research shows that Heldreth was arrested after an incident at Ohio University and charged with two counts of rape and one count of kidnapping.