Mississippi Man Charged with Hate Crime for Destroying Pagan Idol at Iowa State Capitol

A Mississippi man, Michael Cassidy, is now facing charges of a hate crime after allegedly destroying a statue of a pagan idol at Iowa’s state Capitol. The statue, brought to the Capitol by the Satanic Temple of Iowa, had sparked intense controversy and criticism from state and national leaders.

The incident occurred on December 14 when the figure depicting the horned deity Baphomet was reportedly “destroyed beyond repair.” Cassidy, a former congressional and legislative candidate, was initially charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. He justified his actions by stating that his conscience was guided by the word of God, not bureaucratic decree.

However, Polk County prosecutors have now escalated the charges against Cassidy, charging him with felony third-degree criminal mischief. The charge alleges that the act was committed in violation of individual rights under Iowa’s hate crime statute. Lynn Hicks, a spokesman for the Polk County Attorney’s Office, stated that evidence shows Cassidy made statements indicating that he destroyed the statue because of the victim’s religion.

Cassidy’s attorney, Sara Pasquale, has declined to comment on the new charge. In previous court filings, she accused the Satanic Temple of intentionally provoking strong emotions and inciting others.

The accused is scheduled to be arraigned on February 15, and he has already raised over $84,000 for his defense from nearly 2,000 supporters through the fundraising site GiveSendGo.

The Satanic Temple, founded in Salem, Massachusetts in 2013, clarifies that it does not believe in Satan but identifies as a “non-theistic religious organization” advocating for secularism. It is important to note that the Satanic Temple is distinct from the Church of Satan, which was established in the 1960s.

This incident has ignited a heated debate surrounding religious displays in public spaces and the boundaries of individual rights. As the legal proceedings unfold, the nation watches closely to see how this case will impact the ongoing discourse on religious freedom and hate crimes.


Author: CrimeDoor

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