Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

Tenn. Security Guard Gets Federal Sentence for Defacing Torah Scroll

A former hotel security guard was sentenced to one year in prison for civil rights violations for defacing a Memphis Jewish school’s Torah scroll and prayer books.

Friday’s sentence comes on top of a four-year sentence in state prison levied in December.

Justin Baker, 25, of Jackson, Tenn., previously pleaded guilty to the federal civil rights charge.

Baker, an Iraq War veteran, was arrested in January 2013 after students and faculty from the Margolin Hebrew Academy’s Cooper Yeshiva High School of Memphis 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.

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.

U.S. District Judge J. Daniel Breen also ordered Baker to pay $9,999.99 in restitution to the Jewish Day School.

All of the religious items Baker defaced have been returned to the Margolin Hebrew Academy, the Jackson Sun reported.

Baker has called himself an anti-Christian, anti-Semitic Satanist on social media, and says he likes to make bombs, according to the newspaper.

Baker will serve the two sentences concurrently.

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.