Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Security Guard Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges of Defacing Religious Objects

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Tennessee announced that 25-year old Justin Baker yesterday pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of students and faculty of the Margolin Hebrew Academy.  Baker, a security guard at a Jackson (TN) hotel, defaced a Torah and prayer books left in a hotel meeting room by students after they used the room to conduct a Sabbath service:
Baker admitted that while employed as a security guard at the hotel, he discovered the items in the room, and defaced the Torah, the prayer books, and the musical instruments with profanity, anti-Semitic phrases, and Satanic writing. He also admitted to spitting on the Torah. Photographic evidence presented during the hearing confirmed that the Torah was defaced with profanity and phrases including "Hail Satan."


Frank Bellamy said...

Does anyone know what code section this was prosecuted under? more specifically than "civil rights"?

Reading these facts, it looks like this should have been treated as a minor property crime, and prosecuted as a misdemeanor in state court. The fact that it was a religious book, rather than some other book, should have been irrelevant. To treat it as a civil rights issue sounds like this is some kind of blasphemy law, and I don't know how that can be constitutional.

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