|Owen Sound courthouse. (QMI Agency)
OWEN SOUND, ONT. - A 71-year-old Owen Sound man who believes God wanted him to have an Amish wife was convicted Friday of criminal harassment of a local Amish community.
Justice Julia Morneau found that Keith Miller repeatedly watched and harassed members of the Amish community south of Owen Sound, particularly women and children, making them fear for their safety.
Miller knew he was frightening them but continued in his actions anyway, she said.
Miller watched and followed the Amish at the National Grocers store in Owen Sound, where they regularly shopped.
The store manager in June 2012 had police bar Miller from her store for a year for following Amish women and arguing with Amish men.
Miller admitted he drove to the Amish community to watch them to ensure they followed the Sabbath and to post scriptures by the schools.
Miller had binoculars and a note containing times Amish women would be in public when police arrested him June 18 near Desboro, where the Amish live.
Miller testified he had a religious experience and believes God wanted him to have an Amish wife.
He sold his house and gave the proceeds away in the '90s after he believed God told him to so.
He said he believes Amish women are held against their will and was upset the sect wouldn’t let him join.
Local and provincial police warned Miller against harassing the Amish twice in 2008, once 2010 and again in 2012.
Crown attorney Michael Martin praised Const. Robert Sewell for meeting with Amish bishops and obtaining their support to enable police to get statements from community members.
“This is a case which brought together the Amish community and the Ontario Provincial Police in a joint effort to protect the more vulnerable members of that community,” Martin said.
On Thursday, Morneau acquitted Miller on a second harassment charge concerning a school bus driver who drove the Amish around Owen Sound on their shopping days.
Miller will be sentenced Oct. 11.