Man Gets 4 Years for Defacing Yeshiva's Torah Scroll

Ex-Hotel Guard Pleaded Guilty To Spitting on Prayer Books

By JTA

Published December 31, 2013.
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A former hotel security guard was sentenced to four years in prison for defacing a Memphis Jewish school’s Torah scroll and prayer books.

Justin Shawn Baker, 25, was sentenced Tuesday in Madison County Circuit Court, according to the Jackson Sun.

Baker pleaded guilty earlier this month, admitting in court to violating the civil rights of students of the Margolin Hebrew Academy’s Cooper Yeshiva High School of Memphis.

He also pleaded guilty to federal charges of damage to religious property and obstruction of religious belief. He will be sentenced on those charges in March.

Baker was arrested in January after the school’s students and faculty showed up for a worship service in a conference room of the DoubleTree Hotel in Jackson and discovered the Torah scroll and prayer books damaged and covered with graffiti, including “Gentiles win, Jews lose” and “Submit to Satan.”

He also admitted to spitting on the Torah. Baker is an Iraq War veteran.

Some 50 high school students and faculty from the school were spending the Sabbath at the hotel on their way to a ski trip in the Smoky Mountains.


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