Hate Crime Charges Dropped Against Man Who Attacked Satanic Shrine

Prosecutors have dropped hate crime charges against a US military veteran who removed the head of a Satanic statue in Iowa. Last December, Michael Cassidy tore the goat-like head from a mannequin depicting Baphomet, an occult deity, in the Iowa State Capitol. A display featuring the deity was erected by the Satanic Temple and defended by religious freedom advocates. Nevertheless, Mr. Cassidy took Baphomet’s head and threw it in a trashcan, prompting prosecutors to charge him with fourth-degree criminal mischief and felony third-degree criminal mischief derived from Hawkeye State hate crimes legislation.

In exchange for a guilty plea on a misdemeanor charge of third-degree criminal mischief, prosecutors have since dropped the hate crime elements. Cassidy’s attorney, Davis Younts, described the decision as a “huge victory” for religious freedom.

Lucien Greaves, a high-ranking member of the Satanic Temple, however, argues that the opposite is true. Greaves called the display’s destruction “cowardice,” and said it demonstrates that some Americans have “abandoned” freedom of speech and expression.

Former US Navy military veteran Mr. Cassidy took to Twitter after the incident and asked all Americans to agree that “Jesus Christ is Lord” and “Satan is evil.” The Mississippi native unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the US House of Representatives in 2022, losing out in the primaries. He admitted that he traveled from Mississippi to Iowa intending to tear down the Satanic display.

Cassidy’s 2022 campaign website stated that he decided to join the military after 9/11 and entered the Navy in 2009. He described himself as a Christian conservative committed to defending the freedoms afforded to Americans by the Founding Fathers.

The Satanic Temple, a legally recognized religious group in the United States, says that it is the true defender of American freedoms and vowed to return to the Iowa State Capitol in 2024 and re-install its display. The group said it believes everyone should “have the freedom to celebrate” the December holiday season in accordance with their own belief