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Charges dropped against Hillsborough Co. pastor who held church service during safer-at-home order

Posted at 3:25 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 16:56:14-04

The charges against a Hillsborough County pastor arrested for holding a church service during the county's "safer-at-home" order have been dropped.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Pastor of Tampa church arrested for holding large services despite 'safer-at-home' order

Dr. Rodney Howard-Browne, pastor of The River at Tampa Bay Church was charged with unlawful assembly and violation of a public health emergency order at the end of March after it was discovered that he held a church service with large crowds that did not maintain social distancing guidelines.

"His reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation at risk, and thousands of residents who may interact with them this week in danger," Sheriff Chad Chronister said at the time of the arrest.

Liberty Counsel represented the pastor, and the Founder and Chairman Mat Staver released the following statement:

“The arrest of Dr. Rodney Howard-Browne was politically motivated. Neither the pastor nor The River at Tampa Bay Church did anything wrong. The arrest and the press conference were outrageous and caught the attention of the nation and the world. As a result of this arrest, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared attendance at churches, synagogues, and houses of worship to be an essential activity. This arrest freed up every church in Florida to meet. We are pleased that all the charges have been dropped. It is now time to move forward with healing and restoration.”