Minister pays fine for Maine book censor

Posted Sept. 06, 2008, at 1:17 p.m.

LEWISTON, Maine — A clergyman who ministers to children has paid the $100 fine imposed on a Lewiston woman who borrowed a sex education book from the city’s public library last summer and refused to return it because she deemed the contents obscene.

The Rev. Doug Taylor said his payment Friday on behalf of JoAn Karkos reflects the gratitude he felt five years ago when a mystery stranger came forward to pay his fine after he was arrested while trying to secure a permit to protest a white supremacist rally.

Karkos, 64, had not decided whether to pay the fine for refusing a judge’s order to return “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health” to the library.

Written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Michael Emberley, the book features frank but cartoon-like illustrations on topics that include abstinence, masturbation and sexually transmitted diseases.

“I think if would have been horrible if she had to go out and write a check for $100 after the stand that she took,” Taylor said. “I don’t think she should have to bear the financial crunch on her own.”

Karkos choked up after learning of the gesture by Taylor, who operates a children’s ministry in the city’s downtown area.

“I’m just overwhelmed,” she said. “I’m blessed. I’m very blessed. It’s extremely generous because I know they don’t have a lot of money.”

Taylor said he never learned the identity of the stranger who paid his fine in 2003.

“He only said he wanted to pay my fine because he liked my grit,” Taylor said. “Well, I like JoAn Karkos’ grit.”

Karkos said she declined offers from others who wanted to the pay her fine. She said it seems more appropriate that Taylor, the founder of the Jesus Party known for its defense of children, took care of it.

“We really need to marvel in this,” she said. “It’s just beautiful.”

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