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A Mississippi Man Who is Accused of Destroying a Statue of a Pagan God at the Iowa State Capitol Agrees to a Plea Deal


DES MOINES, Iowa — In exchange for dropping a major hate crime charge, the man from Mississippi who was charged with destroying a statue of a pagan god at Iowa’s state capitol pleaded guilty on Friday to a lesser charge.

On June 3, Michael Cassidy, a former congressional and legislative hopeful, was supposed to go to trial. However, his lawyer pleaded guilty on his behalf to an aggravated misdemeanor count of third-degree criminal mischief, according to the Des Moines Register. Under oath, Cassidy wrote that he “partially dismantled a display in the Iowa State Capitol Building, without a right or license to do so,” and the damage was worth more than $700.

The Satanic Temple of Iowa brought the statue of the horned god Baphomet to the Capitol because of state rules that let religious shows happen in the building during the holidays. Leaders across the country and in Iowa, like Gov. Kim Reynolds and Ron DeSantis, who was governor of Florida and running for president at the time, strongly opposed the move.

The group said that on December 14, the statue of the horned god Baphomet was “destroyed beyond repair.”

“I was furious when I saw this blasphemous statue,” Cassidy told the right-wing website The Sentinel in December. “The word of God, not a government order, holds my conscience captive.” So I did something.

A Christian fundraising site called GiveSendGo helped Cassidy get more than $134,000 for his defense. People who supported him said he acted with “bravery and conviction.” He didn’t want to see people insulting God, especially in a building where politicians should respect Jesus Christ as King and use his law to guide their decisions about what is right and fair to do as lawmakers.

The Satanic Temple is a group that was started in 2013 in Salem, Massachusetts. It says it doesn’t believe in Satan and is a “non-theistic religious organization” that supports atheism. It’s not the same as the Church of Satan, which began in the 1960s.

The plea deal says Cassidy will get a deferred sentence, two years of probation, a $855 civil penalty, and will have to pay an amount that hasn’t been decided yet. He would also be required to join in a victim-offender dialogue with representatives of the Satanic Temple if requested. The court does not have to follow the sentencing suggestion, though.

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