PRE-ANOINTING: A file photo of Sen. Rapert and his monument. Max Brantley

News arrives belatedly of something I’m surprised Sen. Jason Rapert hasn’t talked about from his sickbed.

Four women were encountered by Arkansas Capitol Police July 15. They said they were praying for law officers and one was pouring olive oil on the Ten Commandments statue erected through the efforts of Sen. Jason Rapert and currently challenged in federal court as an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

The incident was referred for potential prosecution to Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley. He declined, saying he couldn’t prove criminal intent.

Capitol Police Chief Darrell Hedden said, “I didn’t personally feel they had the intent to damage the statue.”  But he referred it for review. Hedden said Capitol maintenance workers cleansed the memorial that night, but it was thought it wasn’t sufficient and a monument company was hired to do a more thorough cleansing. I’ve requested the cost of that cleanup.

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Capitol police reports say Cpl. Marco Medina was on foot patrol when he saw a group of four women in front of the monument about 8 p.m. He said one of the women, pulled a bottle from under her shirt and poured a small amount of liquid onto the face of the monument and then put the bottle back under her shirt. He asked her what she’d put on the monument. She showed him a small plastic bottle of a generic brand of olive oil

She told Medina that she and the other ladies had spent the past seven days coming to the Capitol complex to pray for Arkansas Law Enforcement. ASCP Dispatcher Heather Bever confirmed that the ladies had been on the Complex.

Medina confirmed the substance was olive oil.

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Hedden said he’d observed the monument after cleaning and it looked undamaged.

Nonetheless, he filed the affidavit with the prosecutor for an arrest warrant on a misdemeanor criminal mischief charge.

The chief, in a supplemental report July 23, said:

The Prosecuting attorney contacted me on July 22, 2020 at approximately 2:40 pm and explains it was his determination that the actions by the individual involved did not meet statutory definition of the law. No charges will be filed in this case. This case is now closed.

The report identifies the woman who poured the oil as a 47-year-old real estate agent from Benton.

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Anointing with olive oil is, of course, a familiar religious practice that signifies cleansing and sanctification.  It is perhaps ill-advised on Bro. Rapert’s monument. Just today, he urged his followers to take up arms to clear the streets of thugs. He IS armed.