|Torah scroll illustration|
(Scroll down for video) A hotel security guard was arrested, charged, and convicted of a bias crime after he vandalized a Torah scroll, according to court proceedings in Tennessee.
Justin Shawn Baker, 25, of Jackson, pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of students and faculty of Margolin Hebrew Academy, after defacing a Torah scroll and books of religious prayers.
According to information contained in the indictment and the facts revealed during the plea bargain hearing on Monday, on January 12, 2013 students and faculty of Margolin Hebrew Academy, were staying overnight at the Doubletree Hotel in Jackson, on their way to Gatlinburg.
Once there, a meeting room at the hotel was used to conduct a Shabbat evening and morning prayer service.
A Torah scroll, religious books, and musical instruments were stored in the meeting room overnight with the intention of continuing services the next morning.
Baker admitted that while working as a security guard at the hotel, he discovered the religious items in the room, and defaced the Torah scroll, prayer books, and musical instruments with obscene words, anti-Semitic phrases, and satanic writings.
He also admitted that he spit on the Torah scroll. Photographic evidence presented at the hearing confirmed that the Torah scroll was defaced with swear words and phrases including "Hail Satan."