She wasn’t wearing a belly shirt. Or a halter. Or a tube top.
Which is why, on Oct. 12, a 22-year-old junior sociology major, who declined to be named for this story, found what happened next to be so perplexing.
The student said she was waiting for class, sitting on a bench near the Subway outside of Cooper Hall, when evangelist John M. Kranert charged at her with his fist up, running until he stopped inches from her face, before he stuck his finger out and called her a whore.
“I remember this, when he was telling me, that I was fully covered,” she said.
That day, she was wearing a gray sweater, long pants, a button-down shirt – not a tank top – and flip-flops.
She doesn’t remember everything she said to him after he came at her. She wasn’t sure if he would physically attack her or was trying to get her to react violently. She did say, “Oh, I’m sorry, God,” and told him that he was “sick” and “domineering.”
“I had no clue what that man was going to do,” she said. “I thought he was going to hit me and say ‘Jesus told me to do it.'”
According to the student, who filed an assault complaint against Kranert on Oct. 31, the incident wasn’t the first time the preacher singled her out or used racial or sexual epithets toward her.
Kranert has declined to comment both on the allegations of assault and on whether he has ever called this or other USF students or passers-by ‘whores’ or used similarly derogatory verbiage.
University Police initially confronted Kranert and other evangelists Wednesday, Oct. 31, about possible disorderly
conduct, responding to callers who complained that their preaching could be heard in Cooper Hall classrooms and offices and was disrupting lessons and work. There was also a question of whether the evangelists were improperly and illegally blocking sidewalks outside of Cooper. No arrests were made.
In the student’s account of the Oct. 12 events and at other times, however, Kranert said things like, “I can tell you’ve been with every man on campus by the way you stand,” called her a “prostitute,” and asked the student – who described herself as having a caramel
complexion, but not black – whether she got her name from Black Entertainment Television (BET), even though he didn’t know her name.
On the day of the incident, she also said Kranert told the crowd: “Whoever owns this woman, they can come get her.”
The student, who has not filed a complaint against Kranert’s wife, Evangelina, said that the preacher’s wife also approached her and pointed her fingers close to the student’s face, so closely that Evangelina even touched her at several junctures.
On Oct. 12, the student, with several others she said witnessed the event, told a UP officer, who at the time he wasn’t sure whether he could do anything.
When Kranert was back on campus Oct. 31, however, the student said the same UP officer was looking for her, as he’d spoken with a senior officer and learned that Kranert’s behavior may have constituted assault.
The officer asked the student to point out any other students who might have seen the alleged assault, and she said she pointed out several people who then gave statements.
Ultimately, the student doesn’t know whether Kranert can legally call someone things like “whore” even without approaching that person physically, given the proscriptions against such behavior in corporate and educational environments.
The student gave an example: If a manager said things to an employee similar to what she alleges Kranert says to students, the result would likely be a large lawsuit settlement in favor of that employee.
She also wonders whether Kranert can be accused of defamation of character, as it’s unclear if he’s devaluing students’ characters, and whether the devaluing of an individual’s character is protected by the First Amendment.
Regardless of legal intricacies, the student doesn’t approve of what she described as Kranert’s judgmental behavior and doesn’t think he has the right to treat students as he does.
“He is just a baby step away from sexual harassment,” she said. “I don’t understand how he isn’t sexually harassing students on campus.”
Victoria Bekiempis can be reached at (813) 974-6299 or email@example.com.