A Colorado man was sentenced to 39 months in prison on a hate crime charge after pleading guilty to intentionally setting a Loveland church on fire, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday afternoon.
According to the release, Darion Sexton, 22, admitted that he set fire to the Abiding Love Lutheran Church on the night of Jan. 19, 2023 by throwing two Molotov cocktails: one aimed at the church’s front door and another at the basement. He said that he wanted to destroy the church due to its religious character.
“This defendant admitted he set out to destroy this church, which was determined to be a federal hate crime,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark D. Michalek of the FBI Denver Field Office in the release. “Anyone who attacks a house of worship will get the full attention of the FBI.”
While such a crime carries with it a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, Sexton entered into a plea agreement with the prosecution, according to a previous release from the department.
“Places of worship are critical for our communities, and this office stands ready to protect them,” said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan for the District of Colorado in the release. “Religious freedom means being free to worship without fear. Our office will take every appropriate action to ensure that every Coloradan enjoys this essential freedom.”
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