Christian veteran who toppled satanic statue in Iowa no longer facing felony hate crime charge

Michael Cassidy told The Christian Post in December that Christians defending a satanic display on constitutional grounds are 'overcomplicating' the situation.
Michael Cassidy told The Christian Post in December that Christians defending a satanic display on constitutional grounds are "overcomplicating" the situation. | R: Courtesy Michael Cassidy L: Screengrab/X

The U.S. Navy veteran who toppled a satanic statue in the Iowa State Capitol last December pleaded guilty to criminal mischief last Friday in exchange for having a felony hate crime charge dropped against him.

Michael Cassidy, a 36-year-old former candidate for the Mississippi House of Representatives, was slapped with a felony under Iowa's hate crime statute after pushing over the Baphomet statue erected near a Nativity scene and tossing its ram's head in the garbage.

After turning himself in to authorities, he was initially charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. But the Polk County Attorney's Office enhanced the charge to a felony in January.

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Cassidy was to stand trial on June 3 and faced up to five years in jail if convicted of the hate crime. But in exchange for having the felony charge dropped, he agreed to plead guilty to a third-degree criminal mischief charge without the hate crime enhancement, according to The Des Moines Register.

Part of the plea deal involved Cassidy admitting in writing that he "partially dismantled a display in the Iowa State Capitol Building, without a right/license to do so," and that the damage he inflicted exceeded $750.

"Not today, Satan," Cassidy tweeted last Friday. "Pleased to announce the Iowa DA just dropped their absurd felony hate crime charge and instead offered a deferred judgement misdemeanor (a fine, no jail time, nothing permanent on my record), which I accepted."

"Many thanks to my family, my lawyers, my community, and the many Christians who have supported us morally and financially over the past several months," he continued. "When Christians stick together, we can, and we will, win. I'll have more to say in the weeks ahead, in the meantime please use this Memorial Day Weekend to remember and honor those who gave their lives in service of our nation. Thank you."

In comments to the conservative outlet The Republic Sentinel, Cassidy's attorney Davis Younts confirmed that prosecutors "finally agreed to drop the hate crimes enhancement after months-long legal battles over every aspect of this case." He attributed the result to supporters who donated more than $134,000 to his legal defense fund on GiveSendGo.

"It is because of the people that came to his aid and an outstanding legal team that we were able to back the prosecutors into a corner and get this resolution," Younts told the outlet. "Instead of a felony hate crime and jail time, Cassidy received deferred judgment for damage to property and the conviction will be expunged once the court process is complete.

"Forcing the prosecutors to drop the hate crime is a huge victory for Cassidy and for religious freedom," he added.

Lynn Hicks, a spokesman for the Polk County Attorney's Office, defended the hate crime charge in a statement to the Des Moines Register.

"While we believe the defendant did commit a crime in violation of individual rights, the decision to allow the defendant to plead guilty to an aggravated misdemeanor took into consideration various factors we weigh when we make a plea offer," Hicks said. "Factors can include but are not limited to: taking full accountability for the criminal conduct, cooperation with law enforcement, the availability of evidence, and the defendant's lack of criminal history."

The presence of a Baphomet statue and satanic altar laying out the seven fundamental tenets of The Satanic Temple in the Iowa State Capitol drew national attention and stirred debate even among Christian Republican state lawmakers regarding the constitutional limits of free speech.

During an interview with CP in December, Cassidy said Christians who believe the U.S. Constitution protects a satanic altar are "overcomplicating" blatant evil that they should be resisting.

"The people who wrote our Constitution would be shocked to think of defending Satan as consistent with their beliefs when they wrote the laws that govern our nation," he said.

"People start overcomplicating the truth, which is that God is great and should be honored, and the devil is evil and should not be honored," he said. "I think people are tying themselves in knots trying to justify it, and it's really a lot simpler than that."

Cassidy also drew support from public figures such as GOP Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Pastor John MacArthur.

"You have to take the consequences if you do it, but that was a noble thing to do," MacArthur said in February. "That was something that he felt very deeply in his heart."

"What are they doing having an altar to Satan in a state public building?" MacArthur continued. "That is the offense. The offense isn't that it was removed, the offense is that it was there. But it demonstrates where the culture is, that he gets punished, not the people who set it up."

Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to

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