Ocheyedan, Iowa man fined in book burning case

Paul Dorr was convicted Tuesday of fifth-degree criminal mischief related to burning LGBTQ-themed books belonging to the Orange City Public Library.

Paul Dorr (center, defense table) is supported by family members during Tuesday's court trial in Sioux County, Iowa District Court. (Alyssa Sobotka/The Globe)

ORANGE CITY, Iowa — Paul Dorr will pay a $65 fine for burning four children’s LGBTQ-themed books belonging to the Orange City, Iowa Public Library during a public Facebook live video last fall.

Magistrate Lisa Mazurek imposed her sentence upon the Ocheyedan, Iowa man Tuesday morning immediately following a court trial in which she found him guilty of simple misdemeanor fifth-degree criminal mischief.

“I don't see any reason to sentence this case any differently than any other first-offense criminal mischief that has appeared in front of this court,” Mazurek said, denying the state’s request to impose the maximum $625 fine. “I’ve never given anybody the maximum, and I’m not going to start with Mr. Dorr.”

Dorr will also pay $60 in court costs and a $22.75 surcharge.

Tuesday’s court trial and sentencing concluded Dorr’s case, which was filed Nov. 8 in Sioux County District Court related to Dorr’s video posted to his Rescue the Perishing Facebook page. The approximately 30-minute video includes commentary as he throws four books belonging to the Orange City Library into flames in a burn barrel near Prairie Winds Event Center. The books included “Two Boys Kissing,” by David Levithan; “Families, Families, Families,” by Suzanne and Max Lang; “This Day in June” by Gayle E. Pitman; and “Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress,” by Christine Baldacchino. The video was created the day of the OC Pride event in October 2018.


Dorr is known in the Worthington area for his history of consulting a vote no campaign for Independent School District 518 referenda.

Dorr, who defended himself throughout the case, filed numerous motions prior to Tuesday’s trial, which included motions for a continuance, suppression, reconsideration, change of venue, judge recusal and withdrawal of affidavits.

In his motions, Dorr twice requested that Mazurek recuse herself from the proceedings, arguing that she was not qualified to preside over the case. He also asserted that because she wouldn’t allow discussion of his cause, she was prejudiced against him.

In other motions made a week before his trial, Dorr argued that the Facebook live video was inadmissible evidence and that the case couldn’t overcome freedoms of religion and speech, which he said were guaranteed to him by the First Amendment.

“The city of Orange City and Orange City Public Library commandeered the state and resources to play innocent victim and use prosecution to promote its agendas and raise funds for the library,” one of Dorr’s motion stated.

Orange City Public Library circulation desk employee Cheryl Kugler said from the witness stand Tuesday that Dorr never offered to pay for the destroyed books. The library had received several copies of each of the burned books as a result. She wasn’t sure why, but they have not been added back into the library’s circulation.

She added that the library received between 800 and 1,000 total book donations and $3,700 in cash donations.

Only about 50 donated books were put into the library’s circulation, while others were returned to vendors or resold.


Kugler said she assisted Dorr Oct. 6, 2018 with a library card application.

“He volunteered that his mother-in-law would be entering a care facility in the area and that he wanted to become more familiar with our library since he and his wife would be spending more time in the area,” Kugler said.

Kugler said the OC library has a form the public may fill out if there is library material it finds objectionable and would like to contest. Dorr did not fill out an objection form, she said.

Orange City investigator Duane Hulstein also testified Tuesday. Hulstein, who investigated the case, said Dorr declined to assist in the investigation, so he instructed the clerk of court file the criminal mischief charge.

The courtroom of approximately two dozen people also watched a shorter version of Dorr’s Facebook video, which state prosecutor Thomas Kunstle said had been edited to eliminate “irrelevant parts” for the hearing.

Members of the courtroom watch the October, 2018 Facebook live video of Paul Dorr burning Orange City Public Library property during Tuesday's court trial and sentencing in Sioux County, Iowa District Court. (Alyssa Sobotka/The Globe)

Prior to being sentenced, Dorr recited the final two stanzas of the 16th century national anthem of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Willhelmus van Nassouwe: “Pray God that He may ease you. His Gospel be your cure. Walk in the steps of Jesus. This life will not endure. Unto the Lord His power, I do confession make, That ne’er at any hour, Ill of the King I spake. But unto God, the greatest Of majesties I owe, obedience first and latest, for Justice wills it so."


In response, Kunstle quoted the late philosopher John Locke: “Being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.”

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTS
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