LIMA — A Delphos woman who had been accepted into a diversion program in lieu of prosecution for allegedly spray-painting messages on a Lima church has seen that opportunity slip through her fingers.
Natashia Shaeffer-Winget, 22, will now go through the normal process for criminal defendants after failing to appear for a pre-trial/diversion hearing last month.
Shaeffer-Winget and Theron Litke, 23, of Lima, are each charged with desecration and vandalism, fourth-degree felonies, for allegedly spray-painting messages promoting a gay lifestyle and other graffiti on the exterior walls of the New Life Assembly Church, 1003 E. Kibby St., Lima.
The indictment against the pair alleged that June 20 Shaeffer-Winget and Litke did “purposely deface, damage, pollute or otherwise physically mistreat a place of worship” by causing between $7,500 and $150,000 in damages to the Kibby Street church.
Both were jailed and then released on own-recognizance bonds.
Shaeffer-Winget’s bond was revoked, and she was incarcerated in the Allen County jail when she failed to appear in Allen County Common Pleas Court for a hearing on Sept. 26. At that time, prosecutors had filed a motion to accept the Delphos woman into a pre-trial diversion program and would, upon successful completion, lead to the dismissal of charges against her.
That offer was revoked after Shaeffer-Winget was a no-show in court last month.
During a hearing Friday, her bond was reinstated, and a pre-trial hearing was set for Nov. 4.
The charges stem from acts of vandalism that were discovered the morning of June 20 when Pastor Bob Wardle arrived at the church. He was greeted by large spray-painted message on the church’s exterior that read “God is a woman and she is gay.” Other graffiti written on the walls included “Love is love,” “God is dead” and “Be kind.”
Profane references to President Donald Trump were also spray-painted on the walls of the non-denominational church founded in 2007. The front entrance of New Life Assembly was not defaced, but the east, west and north-side exterior walls were vandalized with graffiti and eggs, as was a detached shed on the property.
Litke is scheduled to appear in court next on Oct. 18 for a pre-trial hearing.