Prosecutors said the evidence showed the defendant “destroyed the property for religious reasons.”
In the US, Michael Cassidy, a former congressional candidate from Mississippi who admitted to destroying a statue of the pagan idol Baphomet at the Iowa State Capitol, was charged this week with a hate crime, local media reported.
The statue is part of an exhibition organized by the Satanic Temple within the framework of the annual event that allows religious performances in the Capitol State during the Christmas holidays. The installation drew strong criticism from local and national political leaders, mostly Republicans.
BREAKING: Michael Cassidy now faces hate crime charges for beheading a Satan idol at the Iowa State Capitol pic.twitter.com/V5461QGH5x
— End Wokeness (@EndWokeness) January 31, 2024
On December 14, a few weeks after its opening, the centerpiece of the exhibition, depicting the horned god of Bamofet, was destroyed. The next day, Cassidy was charged with criminal damage in the fourth grade.
The man explained to the media at the time that his action was due to his conscience “being captive to the word of God and not from a bureaucratic decree,” so now Polk County prosecutors have elevated the crime to a more serious one.
In a document made public on Tuesday, Cassidy was charged with third-degree criminal mischief and said the act was committed “in violation of individual rights.” under the hate crime law in Iowa. The man is scheduled to appear before a judge on February 15.
Lynn Hicks, spokeswoman for the Polk County Prosecutor’s Office, detailed in a statement that the evidence “indicates that the defendant made statements to the police and the public indicating that he destroyed property.” for religious reasons, which violates individual rights and raises the accusation to a serious crime.
Cassidy’s attorney, Sara Pasquale, declined to comment on the new allegations. In previous court hearings, he accused the Satanic Temple of doing this stimulating presentation, saying that “it is only intended to arouse strong emotions and inspire others.”
For its part, the Satanic Temple assured that the increase in crime “highlights the seriousness of the attack against religious pluralism and the criminal violation of individual rights,” as well as representing an “admirable recognition” that “strengthens the legitimacy” of the organization’s religious positions “in a society that values diversity of thoughts and beliefs.”