Felony charges filed against both people accused of vandalizing Lawrence churches with ‘Vote No’ messages

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

The Victory Bible Church is pictured after vandals spray-painted "Vote No" and "Protect Choice" on the side of the building on Aug. 1, 2022. The church's marquee sign was also painted over.

Charges have now been filed in Douglas County District Court against both people who are accused of spray-painting Lawrence churches ahead of the Aug. 2 election in Kansas.

The two allegedly painted “Vote No” and other messages on two churches before the election in which Kansas voters were to decide on an amendment to the Kansas Constitution that would have eliminated the right to abortion. A “no” vote was a vote against the amendment.

Austin Edward Schmidt, 30, of Lawrence, and Miranda Jean Rocheleau, 27, of Lawrence, are each charged with one count of felony criminal damage to property in connection with Victory Bible Church, 1942 Massachusetts St., according to charging documents. Rocheleau is facing an additional misdemeanor criminal damage charge in connection with Calvary Temple Assembly of God church, 606 W. 29th Terrace.

The charges relate to an incident on or about Aug. 1, when the churches were vandalized with spray paint. At the Victory Bible Church, two of the church’s brick walls and the church’s billboard sign were painted. In addition, multiple wooden crosses that were in the church’s yard were knocked over, as reported by the Journal-World.

The church had openly supported the amendment to remove the right to abortion from the Kansas Constitution, and the church was using the billboard to encourage people to vote yes.

Victory Bible Church’s pastor, Leo Barbee Jr., said at the time that the vandalism was a “sad commentary” on the state of freedom of speech; however, he said the church would keep the matter in perspective.

“We are not mad,” Barbee said. “We probably will hold a prayer vigil for the folks who did this.”

Rocheleau was first booked into the Douglas County Jail on Aug. 5 and was released on a $1,500 cash or surety bond the same day. Schmidt was booked on Sept. 8 and was released on a $3,000 own-recognizance bond.

Rocheleau has applied for diversion and is next scheduled in court on Oct. 18 for a status conference. Schmidt is next scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday, also for a status conference, according to court records.


Welcome to the new LJWorld.com. Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.