Christian Navy Veteran Charged with Hate Crime for Satanic Statue Vandalism

Michael Cassidy, a U.S. Navy veteran and former congressional candidate, has been charged with a hate crime for vandalizing the controversial Satanic Temple statue displayed in the Iowa Statehouse rotunda in December.

Court documents reviewed by the Des Moines Register reveal that Polk County prosecutors have charged Cassidy with felony third-degree criminal mischief under Iowa’s hate crime laws. The charge alleges that Cassidy’s destruction of The Satanic Temple statue violated individual rights. His arraignment is scheduled for February 15.

Initially, Cassidy faced misdemeanor fourth-degree criminal mischief charges immediately after the incident. However, authorities cautioned that additional charges could follow.

Lynn Hicks, spokesperson for the Polk County Attorney’s Office, stated, “Evidence indicates the defendant made statements indicating he destroyed the property because of the victim’s religion.” Hicks explained that Cassidy’s actions prompted the hate crime charge.

According to estimates provided by The Satanic Temple, replacing the destroyed statue will cost between $750 and $1,500. However, The Satanic Temple claims replacement expenses could amount to $3,000.

Cassidy defended his actions to The Sentinel, stating that he destroyed the Satanic Temple’s display to “awaken Christians to the anti-Christian acts promoted by our government.” He expressed outrage at the presence of the statue and asserted that his actions were guided by his religious beliefs rather than bureaucratic decrees.

Cassidy has launched a legal defense fund on GiveSendGo, raising over $98,000 from nearly 2,000 contributors to cover mounting legal expenses as he faces the legal battle with Polk County prosecutors.