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Northwest Iowa Man Who Burned LGBTQ Library Books Pleads Not Guilty

Screen grab from Rescue The Perishing on Facebook
Paul Dorr from Rescue The Perishing reads aloud from a book in October before burning it.

The northwest Iowa man who burned four LGBTQ library books in Orange City last year has pleaded not guilty to fifth-degree criminal mischief.
In a written plea filed electronically in Sioux County District Court last Saturday, Paul Dorr of Ocheyedan asks for a trial date after March 20. He says he is still trying to find an attorney to represent him.

Dorr runs a Christian group called “Rescue The Perishing”. In October, he made a nearly 30-minutes long live video on Facebook, primarily protesting a pride festival held in Orange City.

Near the end of the video, he read aloud from four of the Orange City Public Library’s LGBTQ children’s books and tossed them into a fire.

The four books included “Two Boys Kissing”, “Families, Families, Families”, “This Day in June” and “Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress”. 

If he is found guilty, Dorr could face a maximum fine of $625 and up to 30 days in jail.

Dorr declined to comment on pleading not guilty and did not respond to a question about how he feels over the national attention he received after burning the books in October. He said in an email that he hopes to be exonerated at trial.

This story has been updated to include Paul Dorr's response.

Katie Peikes was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio from 2018 to 2023. She joined IPR as its first-ever Western Iowa reporter, and then served as the agricultural reporter.