Draft resister, prosecutors settle out of court

WICHITA, Kan. -- A Mennonite draft resister said he felt he had taken on the whole U.S. government in successfully refusing to fill out a registration card and was relieved the two-year struggle was over.

In an out-of-court settlement Monday, federal prosecutors agreed to drop charges against Charles Epp.


In exchange, Epp stapled a separate paper with the required information to the registration form, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Williams said.

After the card and attached piece of paper is forwarded to Selective Service officials, Epp will be considered registered, Williams said.

Following the settlement, Epp said he was satisfied with the agreement.

'It's been emotionally difficult,' he said. 'I really felt the pressure, I guess. It's when you see the court forms, 'United States of America vs. Chuck Epp,' that sort of says it right there.

'It feels like the whole court system is coming down on you. It's a relief to have it over.'

Epp, 22, a member of the General Conference Mennonite Church who lived in Henderson, Neb., before moving to North Newton, Kan., contended that filling out the card would acknowledge his willingness to fight if called upon, which his religion forbids.


Prosecutors sought the out-of-court settlement after Epp's lawyers said in opening statements Friday that he had provided Selective Service with the information, without actually filling out form.

'I don't think we're after a pound of flesh from Charles Epp,' Williams said. 'He's a young Mennonite who is very conscientious of his beliefs, and I don't think he's a danger to national security.'

Epp was indicted in September 1982 after he failed to register for the draft and wrote the federal government of his objections. If he had been convicted, he would have faced a maximum of five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

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