The Denver Gazette

Trial begins for 71-year-old woman who says Jan. 6 was ‘assignment from God.’


Ten minutes spent on the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021, on what she considers a God-directed mission, could cost 71-year-old Falcon resident Rebecca Lavernz up to a year in prison and fines of more than $200,000.

But the great-grandmother and bedand-breakfast owner doesn’t regret walking into the United States Capitol during the “stop the steal” rally protesting the 2020 presidential election results.

“I felt I was there on assignment from God,” she said Saturday in a phone interview from her hotel room in Washington, D.C.

A jury trial for Lavernz starts Monday in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, as she faces four federal misdemeanor charges for entering the Capitol more than three years ago. She spent about 10 minutes inside.

Agents from the Joint Terrorism Task Force reviewed surveillance camera footage and confirmed Lavernz’s account, according to a court document filed Sept. 19, 2022.

The report also states that several tipsters alerted federal investigators that Lavernz had been among the crowd.

“Just standing up for my country makes me a criminal,” Lavernz said last week in a video she posted on X, formerly Twitter. “It’s not right. It feels so weird to be here.”

One of her four children who lived in Colorado Springs asked Lavernz in December of 2020 if she planned to go to the rally, which was held on the day congressional leaders were certifying the Electoral College’s vote count of the 2020 presidential election.

Protesters such as Lavernz disputed the outcome of the Nov. 5, 2020, election declaring Joe Biden as president.

“I’ve always been a lifelong lover of truth, and I felt something went really wrong with that 2020 election, and I hate injustice,” she said.

There has been no substantive evidence before or since of wrongdoing in the compilation of the 2020 results.

Lavernz, who has four adult children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandson, said she prayed about whether she should attend.

“It didn’t take me long to figure out God was saying to go there,” she said. “I do what I can in prayer, and I put action to my faith.”

Lavernz, a retired registered nurse, drove 25 hours across country, fasting and praying throughout the long trip to reach her destination.

Wearing a red scarf and a white hat to the rally, which she said she attended by herself, Lavernz encountered a group of people praying outside the Capitol, and she joined them for about an hour and a half.

“It was a patriotic, joyful time to be around so many people who love their country,” she said. “I felt a strong presence of the spirt of God fall over me, and I started crying.”

At one point, she took the microphone to speak about a document that became known as the 1620 Mayflower Compact. Included in the agreement that pilgrims had signed before they set foot on American soil was that the country would be dedicated to the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith.

“My mission in life is to know God and make his ways known and restore the country back to its godly foundation,” Lavernz said. “Without God, there’s no justice.”

As the rally turned riotous, Lavernz told investigators that she “observed people getting into physical confrontations with police, pushing on the barriers as the police pushed back … ”

The arrest affidavit goes on to say, “When a man finally succeeded in pushing past a barrier and entering the U.S. Capitol, Lavernz observed that none of the police officers chased him. When the crowd eventually pushed aside the barriers, allowing people to stream through the main door of the U.S. Capitol on the East side, Lavernz followed and entered as well.”

When the East Rotunda doors were opened, Lavernz said during The Gazette interview that she felt compelled to go in, “to bring God inside the Capitol with my presence.”

Lavernz said she followed the crowd and stayed within ropes that blocked people from entering certain parts of the building.

“I didn’t say anything, I didn’t shout or wave. I didn’t see any violence when I was in the Capitol, and there was no damage,” she said.

“I felt God’s presence in me and just made my presence known to let Congress know we the people voted them in office, and we were saying you need to listen to what we’re saying.”

Lavernz said she and other people in the group turned around and retreated when someone said members of Congress had already left the building. “So, we didn’t have any way to express our grievances and left.”

Video footage shows Lavernz entering the Capitol at 2:43 p.m. and exiting the building at 2:53 p.m.

When she arrived back home, Lavernz said she felt good about her participation.

“I did what I was supposed to be doing and was surprised to hear that people were getting arrested,” she said.

In April of 2021 two FBI agents knocked at the door at her rural home in eastern El Paso County and said they were there to investigate her involvement in the Jan. 6 event.

She was busy baking a cake for her son’s birthday and asked if they could come back on a different day. They said, “Yes” and returned in a few weeks.

Nearly a year and a half later, on Dec. 19, 2022, Lavernz was arrested and charged with four federal misdemeanors at the U.S. District Court in Denver.

“I sat in a prison for three hours, and they let me out of personal recognizance, took my passport, put me on probation and told me to let the officer know if I was going to travel anywhere,” she said.

She is charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a capitol building, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a capitol.

Prosecutors contend that Lavernz entered the Capitol without having the authority to do so, and in the process violated four laws.

Lavernz refused a plea deal the prosecution offered last year.

Jury selection from the District of Columbia area begins Monday for the trial that Lavernz said she was told would last until at least Thursday.

“I didn’t get into this for myself, I was there to stand up for my country,” she said. “I asked God if I did something wrong, if I needed to repent, and God said, ‘No, you went there to make my presence known and to pray.’

“My biggest prayer is that God gets the final word this week.”

Lavernz is among 1,358 people charged with criminal actions related to the Jan. 6 rally that turned violent, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

She is one of 1,276 defendants who allegedly entered or remained in a restricted federal building or grounds.

About 500 new cases are expected to come before the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., this year.

Last week, a jury convicted a Virginia man, who went inside the Capitol for three minutes and walked around and took photos, on four counts.

Also last week, a Jefferson County man was sentenced to 63 months in prison for his involvement in the Jan. 6 event. He was convicted of three felonies and also ordered to pay restitution.

The Jan. 6 attack resulted in nearly $3 million in damages to the building and grounds, and costs incurred by police, the Department of Justice said earlier this month.





The Gazette, Colorado Springs