A Somerville landlord convicted of pushing a Muslim tenant down a flight of stairs must undergo an introductory class about the faith as part of her sentence, after the Supreme Judicial Court upheld the sentence Wednesday.
Daisy Obi, a long-time landlord in her 70s, pushed the tenant down about 15 feet of stairs in front of her children in 2012, according to a report in the Boston Globe.
Witnesses testified that Obi, who is a minister at the Adonai Bible Center in Somerville, terrorized the Muslim family with slurs and other verbal abuse while living on her property, WBZ reported.
A judge ordered Obi to spend six months in the Middlesex County House of Correction and to take an introductory class on Islam, and provide her probation officer with written documentation that she had done so.
“You have to respect the rights of people of the Muslim faith. You have to respect all people.’’ Somerville District Court Judge Paul M. Yee Jr. told Obi during the sentencing, according to court transcripts obtained by the Globe. “That’s the message I’m sending out to you. That is the message that I’m sending out to the community...Even you, wanting to be a person of God, have to [show] respect for all people.”
The state’s highest court upheld the sentence, but only on procedural grounds: Obi’s lawyers did not raise concerns about the unusual requirement during appeals in lower courts, so the SJC justices could not consider the legality of it.
“While conditions of probation that touch on religion and risk incursion upon constitutionally protected interests should be imposed only with great circumspection, the defendant raised no such concerns before the trial court judge, and there is no information in the record that would allow us to evaluate her claims,’’ Justice Barbara Lenk wrote. “Because she raises these claims for the first time on appeal, they have been waived.”
Obi must also notify future tenants of her conviction, according to the Globe.