Man Faces Federal Hate Crime and Arson Charges

News -- Missouri: May 6, 2022: The Justice Department stated that Christopher Scott Pritchard, 46, has been charged with hate crime and arson crimes for burning down the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The statement was made by Justice Department Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, United States Attorney Sayler A. Fleming for the Eastern District of Missouri, and FBI St. Louis Field Office Acting Special Agent in Charge Akil Davis.

Pritchard is charged with willfully blocking parishioners of the church in their free exercise of religion beliefs and using fire to conduct a federal felony, according to court filings. If convicted, Pritchard faces up to 20 years in jail for blocking parishioners and a required minimum of 10 years in prison for using fire to commit a federal felony, which must run concurrently with any other term. Pritchard could potentially face fines of up to $250,000 for each offence.

The Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Office, the FBI, the Missouri State Fire Marshal's Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigated the accusations. Trial Attorneys Shan Patel and Noah Coakley of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, as well as Assistant US Attorney Paul Hahn for the Eastern District of Missouri, are prosecuting the case.

*Editor's Note: A criminal charge is an accusation, by law, a person accused of a crime is innocent until proven in a court of law.

Wnctimes by Marjorie Farrington

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