navy reserve veteran charged with hate crime for beheading satanic statue in iowa state capitol

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Navy Reserve veteran Michael Cassidy has been charged with a hate crime after he beheaded a satanic statue in the Iowa State Capitol, according to a Tuesday press statement from the local attorney’s office. 

Cassidy, who said that he was committing an act of “Christian civil disobedience” after he destroyed a pagan Baphomet statue that was displayed in the Iowa Capitol, made national headlines for his actions. 

“Court records show Cassidy is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 15,” the Des Moines Register reported. 

NAVY VET DEFENDS BEHEADING IOWA CAPITOL’S SATANIC BAPHOMET STATUE: ‘CHRISTIAN CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE’

Navy Reserve veteran Michael Cassidy has been charged with a hate crime after he beheaded a satanic statue in the Iowa State Capitol, according to local news reports.  (Getty Images)

He has raised over $100,000 for his legal defense, according to his GiveSendGo site. Cassidy’s fundraising site also indicates that “faces five years in prison” on a hate crime charge.

One of Cassidy’s lawyers, R. David Younts, told Fox News Digital in a statement that he hopes the District Attorney’s office will dismiss the charge against his client. 

“It is deeply disappointing that my client is being targeted with this type of charge,” Younts wrote. “His non-violent actions were motivated by his sincere and deeply held religious faith.  Nothing he did was targeted at any specific individual or organization.  I hope that as the DA’s office carefully reviews the facts of this case they will dismiss the charge.”

Cassidy was initially cited for criminal mischief in the fourth degree and released after he told security that he destroyed the statue. The felony charge was added because, a spokesman for the Polk County Attorney’s Office claimed, the evidence indicated that Cassidy destroyed the statue for religious reasons. 

“Evidence shows the defendant made statements to law enforcement and the public indicating he destroyed the property because of the victim’s religion,” Polk County Attorney’s Office spokesperson Lynn Hicks said. 

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Kim Reynolds speaks

In a statement following the destruction of the statue, Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said she found the statue “absolutely objectionable,” but that the best response to objectionable speech is more speech and prayer. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“Hicks said in a statement that based on information from the Satanic Temple, the cost to replace or repair the statue would be between $750 and $1,500, making its destruction an aggravated misdemeanor,” the Des Moines Register reported. “(In fact, the Temple has filed a damage estimate putting the cost to replace the statute at $3,000.) What makes the charge a felony, Hicks said, is the hate crime statute.”

Cassidy’s attorney has written in court filings that the Satanic Temple, which organized the pagan Baphomet display, was intended to “evoke strong emotions and incite others.” 

In a statement following the destruction of the statue, Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said she found the statue “absolutely objectionable,” but that the best response to objectionable speech is more speech and prayer.

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The Polk County attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital. 

Fox News’ Charles Creitz and Brandon Drey contributed to this report. 

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