Man From Ohio Gets 18 Years After Pleading Guilty To Firebombing Church Over Planned Drag Shows, DOJ Says

Image not from story (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC / AFP) (Photo by SAVO PRELEVIC/AFP via Getty Images)

Julianna Frieman Contributor
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A man from Ohio was sentenced to 18 years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to firebombing a church over its planned drag shows, court documents showed, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.

Aimenn Penny must serve 216 months in jail followed by three years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to federal charges for attempting to burn down the Community Church of Chesterland, a judge decided, according to a press release from the DOJ.

“This sentence holds Mr. Penny accountable for carrying out violence against an Ohio church because he disagreed with the way congregants chose to express their beliefs,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the DOJ’s National Security Division stated, the press release said. “Such acts of extremist violence have no place in our communities and the Justice Department is committed to bringing to justice those who would use or threaten violence to prevent their fellow citizens from freely exercising their fundamental rights.”

Penny violated the Church Arson Prevention Act last year when he used Molotov cocktails against the church, which was scheduled to host multiple drag show events the weekend after, the documents said, according to the DOJ. He was also indicted on “one count of using fire to commit a federal felony, one count of malicious use of explosive materials, and one count of possessing a destructive device,” the DOJ added. (RELATED: Another Pro-Life Group Attacked With Molotov Cocktails)

“We hope this significant sentence sends a clear and resounding message that this type of hate-fueled attack against a church will not be tolerated in our country,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division stated, according to the press release.