(JTA) — A former hotel security guard pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge for defacing a Jewish school’s Torah scroll and prayer books.
Justin Shawn Baker, 25, admitted during a plea hearing Monday in a Jackson, Tenn., court to violating the civil rights of students of the Margolin Hebrew Academy’s Cooper Yeshiva High School of Memphis.
Baker was arrested in January after the school’s students and faculty showed up for a worship service in the conference room at the DoubleTree Hotel in Jackson and discovered the Torah scroll and prayer books damaged and covered with graffiti, including “Gentiles win, Jews lose” and “Submit to Satan.”
He also admitted to spitting on the Torah scroll, according to WJJB, the western Tennessee ABC television affiliate.
Some 50 high school students and faculty from the school were spending the Sabbath at the hotel on their way to a ski trip in the Smoky Mountains.
Baker is an Iraq War veteran.