Columbus Mosque Vandalism Considered Hate Crime

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- "Allah is a fraud dum dums". Those words, the Franklin County Prosecutor says, were spray-painted on the Ahlul-Bayt Society Islamic Center's door windows in north Columbus. "Repent Turn To True God + Jesus or Burn 4 Ever" was another message the vandal painted on a facility window.

Todd M. Williams, 44, has been indicted by a Franklin County Grand Jury. He's facing three counts, including Desecration, a fifth-degree felony; Ethnic Intimidation, a second-degree misdemeanor; and Criminial Mischief, a third-degree misdemeanor, connected to the vandalism which occurred on February 11.

Prosecutors say laws and penalties differ between jurisdictions, and Franklin County worked with federal investigators to find an appropriate statute under which to charge Williams."It was only physical damage to the facility. We were able to file a felony, where the U.S. Attorney's Office could not," said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien during a news conference Thursday morning.

O'Brien was challenged by one journalist about the charges in the vandalism at the Islamic center, as opposed to the approach taken in the aftermath of the machete rampage at the Nazareth Deli in northeast Columbus a year ago. The Franklin County Prosecutor and federal attorneys say Mohamed Barry, 30, the suspect in the machete rampage, is deceased, so no charges can be filed in that separate case.

Related to the Ahlul-Bayt Society case, prosecutors say they want to send a message "loud and clear, that hate crimes based on religious intolerance will be fully prosecuted," O'Brien says.

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