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Hotel employee gets 1 year jail for spitting at Torah scroll

By Mason White 5:50 PM March 9, 2014
Torah scroll illustration 

By: Aarav Sen
(Scroll down for video) A man was arrested, charged and convicted of civil rights violations after being accused of spitting at a Torah Scroll, prosecutors in Tennessee said.

Now, the Jackson hotel security guard has been sentenced to one year in prison for civil rights violations after defacing the Torah scroll and Jewish prayer books.

25-year-old Justin Shawn Baker pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain agreement with prosecutors. He admitted to spitting at the Torah scroll and writing bad words and phrases including “Hail Satan” on a holy book.

The defendant was also ordered to pay about $10,000 in restitution to the Margolin Hebrew Academy. As we reported earlier, 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.”