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Jail priest faces charges

Administrative charges were brought on a christian jail priest accused of handing out anti-Islam cartoon booklets.

The Rev. Teresa Darden Clapp was notified of the charges Tuesday, said Rockland County Sheriff James Kralik. He said they included gross misconduct, official misconduct, misconduct and gross negligence, but said he could not discuss what each charge entailed. Possible penalties include dismissal.

Clapp was suspended with pay last month after inmates said she was passing out anti-Islam booklets.

In the stories, a tract titled "Men of Peace?" says Islamic fundamentalists who commit terrorist acts are not "bad Muslims" but "very good Muslims" who act in accordance with their religion. Another tract, titled "Allah Has No Son," says Allah is not God, Muhammad was no prophet and the Quran is not the word of God. Allah is the Arabic word for God, and Muslims believe they worship the same God as Christians and Jews.

Both stories end with people being convinced that Islam is false. In one ending, a Muslim is contrite on learning he is worshipping a false idol and converts to Christianity.

Local Muslims have called for Clapp's dismissal. Junaid Dar, president of the Islamic Center of Rockland, called the administrative charges against Clapp "good news."

"This kind of thing, it should not happen to any religion," Dar said.

Clapp has until May 24 to answer the charges and may face an administrative hearing, overseen by an arbitrator, within 30 days.

No home telephone number for Clapp was listed in New York or New Jersey. She has not commented publicly about her actions.

P.T. Thomas, the president of the Rockland County unit of the Civil Service Employees Association, said a union lawyer would represent Clapp in the proceeding.

"Last week when I spoke to her, she was denying the charges," Thomas told The Journal News.

Jail officials said last week that they would hire a Muslim imam and provide religiously appropriate food for Muslim inmates.

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