Ex-prosecutor wants ‘compassion’ for priest accused of pointing gun at boy
Former Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi expressed doubt Wednesday morning the North Jersey priest accused of pointing a Civil War-era musket at an 8-year-old will ultimately be tried and convicted.
"We have become a society that has an incarceration mentality," Bianchi told New Jersey 101.5's Bill Spadea when asked to give his perspective on the charges against Carter. "We need to bring in a little bit of reason, mercy and compassion."
Bianchi said a mandatory minimum sentence for anyone who points a gun at another works well for drug dealers and gangs. But problems arise, he said, when the law is extended to otherwise law-abiding citizens who don't know about the rule.
Carter was arrested and charged with fourth-degree aggravated assault by pointing a firearm and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child. The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office has said he could face a maximum of five years in prison for endangerment and up to 18 months behind bars for assault.
Spadea suggested that under the law, even Civil War re-enactors could be charged.
While Bianchi repeatedly called for the rule of reason to be applied when dealing with the state's "draconian gun laws," he also said people should be careful when critiquing Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli because facts are still coming out about the case.
Carter has said the allegations stem from one woman who "misinterpreted" his interaction with a boy in their congregation. Carter, a known Giants fan, said he was joking with the child, a Dallas Cowboys fan — not threatening him.
Carter has also expressed concern for his accuser, a member of his church, saying he didn't want her to "suffer any harm," and asking his congregation to be "loving to her."
Considering the existing evidence, Bianchi said he is confident that the Bergen prosecutor will dismiss the charges against Carter.
Carter, who pleaded not guilty to charges on Tuesday, has also received the support of both parishioners and police, who claim the priest was misunderstood and lacked "evil intent" in his actions.
Kira Buxton is producer of The Jim Gearhart Show and a professional photographer-videographer. You can reach her at email@example.com.