The Bend civil rights activist accused of breaking into a church off-hours with a firearm was back in Deschutes County Circuit Court on Thursday.
Yajnesa “Yaju” Dharmarajah was scheduled to enter a plea related to his October arrest, but with his charges amended last month, he appeared Thursday to schedule a new date to enter a plea.
Dharmarajah, 44, is still charged with four counts, including the felony of first-degree burglary. But he’s no longer charged with the felony of first-degree criminal mischief. That charge was downgraded to second-degree criminal mischief.
He also remains accused of unlawful possession of a firearm and possessing a burglary tool.
Dharmarajah was arrested in the early hours of Oct. 2 outside the Westside Church at 2051 N.W. Shevlin Park Road. He’s alleged to have used a pry bar to open doors and enter the church while carrying a concealed firearm. He was found wearing a ski mask and gloves, according to Bend Police.
His lawyer, Thaddeus Betz, has said his client was suffering from a mental health episode at the time.
The church has several locations Central Oregon and one of the area’s largest congregations.
The church director declined a request for comment.
Dharmarajah, has represented Central Oregon unions members in negotiations, notably as staff representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 75 in Bend. In 2014, he co-founded the Central Oregon Justice Center and he served on the Oregon Council of Civil Rights until his term ended last year.