SPRINGFIELD – A local man who served as manager of the Holy Grounds Coffee Shop on State Street -- a cafe operated by anti-gay pastor Scott Lively that serves free coffee and offers conversation to teenage visitors -- is a sex offender from New York who was imprisoned for the sexual abuse of a 10-year-old girl in 1995, according to police.
Police detectives on Thursday arrested Michael Frediani, 38, of 453 State St., for failing to register as a Level 2 sex offender in Springfield. He was living in an apartment above the coffee house.
He was being held at the Springfield police lock-up, said Sgt. John M. Delaney, a spokesman to Police Commissioner William J. Fitchet.
In New York, Frediani is listed as a Level 3 sex offender, defined as most likely to repeat an offense.
Frediani had identified himself as “Michael Free,” when he was interviewed last Friday by The Republican at the coffee house. At the time, Frediani said he was a “volunteer manager” at the coffee house, assisting the owner, controversial pastor Scott Lively.
Frediani said then that he is a Born Again Christian and a “minister of Jesus.”
Frediani moved to Springfield on Jan. 1, from 2119 Northampton St., in Holyoke, and failed to register as a sex offender, as required by law, Delaney said.
In New York, Frediani was convicted of sexual abuse in the first degree and aggravated sexual abuse in the second degree in 1996.
The charge relates to an arrest by police in Canandaigua, N.Y., in 1995 in which the victim was a 10-year-old girl. The description of the offense was “deviate sexual intercourse.”
He was sentenced to two to four years in state prison, serving at the Midstate Correctional Facility from September of 1996 to February of 1999, according to Carole Weaver, a spokeswoman for the state’s Division of Parole.
The coffee house drew criticism last week from some city and school officials, in part because of concerns that truant students were visiting the site during school hours. Lively, pastor of Redemption Gate Mission Society, has criticized media reports, which he says falsely portray him as a gay-bashing, hate-mongering activist.
Frediani said he has managed the coffee house for Lively and offered the visitors free coffee, tea, hot chocolate and “anything they want.” He estimated that as many as 30 youth have been in the coffee house at one time.
“I talk to all the kids,” Frediani said. “We have a place that is safe.”
“The presence of God is here right now,” Frediani said Friday. “I invite God to touch them and he does.”
While he might ask for a donation of $1 for a coffee, the youth “not to worry” if they do not give a donation, he said.
Earlier this week, Lively said he had reached agreement with a vice-principal at Commerce not to allow students to congregate at the coffee house during school hours.