WASHINGTON (WKBN) – An Ohio man pleaded guilty Monday to attempting to burn down a church due to the church’s support of the LGBTQI+ community.
Aimenn D. Penny, 20, of Alliance, pleaded guilty to a violation of the Church Arson Prevention Act.
According to court documents, on March 25, Penny made Molotov cocktails and drove to the Community Church of Chesterland (CCC), in Chesterland, Ohio. Angered by the church’s plan to host two drag events the following weekend, Penny threw two Molotov cocktails at the church, hoping to burn it to the ground.
Penny was arrested and charged earlier this year with violating the Church Arson Prevention Act, 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.
“Mr. Penny admitted to attempting to burn down a church because he did not like the way congregants chose to express their beliefs,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “Such acts of extremist violence are antithetical to core American values of freedom of expression and worship and we will not tolerate those who would use force to deny our citizens the free exercise of their rights.”
Penny faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a 10-year mandatory prison sentence that will run consecutively with any other prison term imposed for using fire to commit a federal felony.
Sentencing has been scheduled for Jan. 29, 2024.