(Dmytro “Henry” Aleksandrov, Headline USA) Michael Cassidy, a Christian and former U.S. military officer, has been charged with a “hate crime” because he destroyed a Satanic Baphomet statue at the Iowa Capital last year.
Satanists from the Satanic Temple of Iowa were able to put the statue in the government building by using the state rules that allow religious displays in the capital, Trending Politics reported.
The statue caused a lot of outrage from the public, but it was “removed” only after Cassidy decided to decapitate the statue and, therefore, destroy it “beyond repair” on Dec. 14, 2023.
Cassidy was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, on Dec. 15, 2023.
“[My] conscience is held captive to the word of God, not to bureaucratic decree. And so I acted,” he said back then.
On Jan. 30, 2024, Polk County prosecutors charged Cassidy with felony third-degree criminal mischief, noting that the act was committed “in violation of individual rights” under Iowa’s hate crime statute.
“Evidence shows the defendant made statements to law enforcement and the public indicating he destroyed the property because of the victim’s religion,” which triggered the violation of individual rights enhancement, Lynn Hicks, a spokesman for the Polk County Attorney’s Office, said.
“[Satanic Temple making premature filings], like the timing and substance of the Satanic Temple of Iowa’s installation of a demonic statue in the capitol building… are only meant to evoke strong emotions and incite others,” Sara Pasquale, an attorney representing Cassidy, said.
Cassidy is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 15, 2024, according to court records. Before the announcement of the new charges, he was already able to raise more than $100,000 for his legal defense on GiveSendGo.
“The world may tell Christians to submissively accept the legitimization of Satan, but none of the founders would have considered government sanction of Satanic altars inside Capitol buildings as protected by the First Amendment,” Cassidy said shortly after he destroyed the statue.