Ex-security guard gets federal sentence for defacing Torah scroll


(JTA) — A former hotel security guard was sentenced to one year in prison for civil rights violations for defacing a Memphis Jewish school’s Torah scroll and prayer books.

Friday’s sentence of Justin Baker, 25, of Jackson, Tenn., comes on top of a four-year term in state prison levied in December. He will serve his two sentences concurrently.

U.S. District Judge J. Daniel Breen also ordered Baker to pay $9,999.99 in restitution to the school.

Baker had pleaded guilty to the federal civil rights charge. The Iraq War veteran was arrested in January 2013.

Students and faculty from the Margolin Hebrew Academy’s Cooper Yeshiva High School arriving at a worship service in a conference room of the DoubleTree Hotel in Jackson discovered the Torah scroll and prayer books damaged and covered with graffiti, including “Gentiles win, Jews lose” and “Submit to Satan.” Baker also admitted to spitting on the Torah.

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.

The religious items Baker defaced have been returned to the Margolin Hebrew Academy, the Jackson Sun reported.

Baker has called himself an anti-Christian, anti-Semitic Satanist on social media, and says he likes to make bombs, according to the newspaper.

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