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Community college suspended student for quoting Bible: lawsuit

Lawsuit continues as community college tries to get case dismissed

A County College of Morris student who preached against homosexuality by citing Bible verses and was suspended has returned to campus while the legal battle continues.

Kombe Sefelino is currently suing the New Jersey community college for suspending him after complaints he was “observed preaching hate speech on campus in reference to homosexuality and homosexuals.”

CCM’s Dean of Students Janique Caffie sent Sefelino a letter laying out the complaints against him. Caffie suspended Sefelino from campus in November and again in March of this year.

In a filing after the initial lawsuit, Caffie stated she told Sefelino he could return to campus for any “lawful purpose.”

Sefelino (pictured) is represented by America First Legal, which filed the lawsuit against the community college.

“In this case, the Dean of Students said she runs the campus,” Wally Zimilong, Sefelino’s attorney, told The College Fix via email.

“Basically, she said the [First Amendment] does not apply to speech she does not like. The Dean’s perspective here is emblematic of a view shared by most college administrators that America is fundamentally flawed and that the Constitution and the free-enterprise system are abhorrent,” the attorney told The Fix.

Melissa Albright, the community college’s public relations vice president, told The College Fix “the college is not able to comment on pending litigation.”

The student “seeks to inform passersby of the Bible’s teachings, urging them to repent of their sins and put their faith in Jesus Christ,” the lawsuit states.

“Mr. Sefelino’s preaching will occasionally mention the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality, which condemn homosexuality as a sin and warn practicing homosexuals (and other sinners) that they will not inherit the kingdom of God unless they repent,” the suit states.

“Mr. Sefelino also preaches that every person will stand before God one day to be judged, and that those who do not repent of their sins will suffer eternal punishment in hell, consistent with the Bible and the teachings of Jesus on these matter,” it adds.

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A second letter included in the lawsuit from the campus vice president of human resources claimed Seflino violated state anti-discrimination law; Vivyen Ray accused Sefelino of “[prophesying] about gay people going to hell.”

She said “we accept everyone here. There is no place for bias at CCM. You should think hard about whether this is the best environment for you.”

The community college argued in a March 30 court filing that the issue is moot because its attorneys told Sefelino he is “permitted to return to the County College of Morris campus for any lawful purpose.”

According to their filing, this means “changes in circumstances that prevailed at the beginning of the litigation have forestalled any occasion for meaningful relief” now.

Sefelino’s legal team disagreed, arguing that “the defendants changed their tune and allowed Mr. Sefelino to return to campus only after Mr. Sefelino sued and sought emergency relief from this Court.”

The filing also noted that “it has long been settled that a defendant cannot moot a claim for injunctive relief by changing its conduct after a lawsuit has been filed.”

Other issues remain.

The community college has not clarified if Sefelino’s preaching is considered “lawful” or if it will discipline him in the future if he continues. In addition, Sefelino is seeking payment of his legal fees and the expungement of his disciplinary record, which the community college has not provided.

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IMAGE: Kombe Sefelino/Facebook

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About the Author
Benjamin Ogilvie -- University of Chicago