Hotel Security Guard Faces Jail Time for Defacing Torah Scroll

Justin Baker pleaded guilty on Monday to civil rights intimidation for violating the students of the Margolin Hebrew Academy's Cooper Yeshiva High School of Memphis, as well as felony vandalism.

A former hotel security guard pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge for defacing a Jewish school’s Torah scroll and prayer books.

Justin Baker, 25, of Jackson, Tenn., pleaded guilty Monday to civil rights intimidation for violating the civil rights of students of the Margolin Hebrew Academy’s Cooper Yeshiva High School of Memphis, as well as felony vandalism.

Baker will be sentenced on Dec. 30 in Madison County Circuit Court. He faces two to four years for civil rights intimidation and two to four years for vandalism over $10,000, according to the Jackson Sun.

He was arrested in January after the school’s students and faculty discovered the scroll and prayer books damaged and covered with graffiti as they entered a conference room at the DoubleTree Hotel in Jackson for Sabbath services. The graffiti included “Gentiles win, Jews lose” and “Submit to Satan.”

Approximately 50 students and faculty from the school were spending Shabbat at the motel on their way to a ski trip in the Smoky Mountains.

A Torah parchment scroll on display in a museum.
AP