Michael Cassidy, a Navy veteran and Christian man from Mississippi, made national headlines in December after he tore down and beheaded a Satanic display in the Iowa State Capitol, now he is being charged with a hate crime.
Believing his actions were the “right thing to do,” Cassidy said, “We should not tolerate Satan,” explaining why he decided to take action against the display.
He was at first charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, court documents also found he was allegedly guilty of committing an act under Iowa’s hate crime statute that is “in violation of individual rights,” according to KCCI-TV.
The outlet reported the legal claim against Cassidy is now a third-degree criminal mischief charge, known as a class D felony; he will be arraigned Feb. 15.
“Evidence shows the defendant made statements to law enforcement and the public indicating he destroyed the property because of the victim’s religion,” Lynn Hicks, a spokesman for the Polk County Attorney’s Office, said in a statement.
The statement on the matter recounts the alleged events that unfolded Dec. 14 and details the cost of the damage.
“Mr. Cassidy dismantled the Baphomet Altar on Dec. 14 at the Iowa State Capitol and destroyed the headpiece, according to an Iowa State Patrol report,” it reads. “Based on information from the victims, the cost to replace or repair the property is between $750 and $1,500. That amount would make the offense third-degree criminal mischief, an aggravated misdemeanor, according to Iowa Code Section 716.5.”
But that charge rose to third-degree criminal mischief in violation of individual rights after Cassidy purportedly said he destroyed the monument “because of the victim’s religion.” A class D felony is punishable by no more than five years behind bars and could come with fines.