Guilty of Trespassing, Philly Jesus Claims Innocence: ‘I Forgive Them for Trespassing Against Me’

Mixed verdict for man who dons the cloak in Center City Philadelphia

Jen A. Miller

Philly Jesus is preaching a message of forgiveness after being found guilty of trespassing stemming from his arrest at a Center City Apple Store earlier this year.

"The son of man will triumph over these bogus charges," said Michael Grant, aka Philly Jesus, ahead of Wednesday morning's trial.

Despite being found guilty of misdemeanor defiant trespass later Wednesday and being sentenced to three months probation -- the first month having to report to a probation officer -- and being told to pay around $600 in court fees, Grant maintained his innocence.

"I will appeal," Grant told NBC10. "I am innocent."

Grant, 30, spent 12 hours behind bars after his May 2 arrest inside the store at 1607 Walnut St. He claims he was lawfully in the store charging his phone since he is an Apple customer. Investigators allege that Grant refused to leave despite being asked three times because a cross he had with him was blocking an aisle. Grant claims the employee that asked him to leave was offended by his appearance and garb.

Grant in full Jesus garb appeared in court with Philadelphia-based criminal defense attorney Brian Zeiger to fight defiant trespassing and disorderly conduct charges. He was found not guilty of disorderly conduct after the trial that lasted a couple hours.

An Apple store manager testified during the bench trial. Grant has been back in the store since his arrest.

"I'm an Apple customer with an iPhone, on a family plan -- Father, Son & Holy Spirit," said Grant. "Bless up! May the lord have mercy."

In May, Grant rejected participation in an accelerated misdemeanor program that would have settled the case since he maintains his innocence.

Despite being put on probation, Grant preached forgiveness as he returned to the streets of Philadelphia Wednesday afternoon.

"I was found guilty of trespassing but I forgive them for trespassing against me," said Grant. "For they know not what they do."

Grant is a recovering heroin addict who is popular among tourists and Center City regulars who donned the Philly Jesus persona about two years during his recovery. He spends most days in the Center City area of Love Park and Dilworth Plaza giving blessings, the occasional fountain baptism and taking photos with tourists.

When reached for comment back in May, Apple referred to Philly Police for comment.

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