Charles Dwight Stout III Convicted Of Civil Rights Violation
A Tennessee man named Charles Dwight Stout III, 20, pleaded guilty in a United States District Court for vandalizing the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in July 2017. He was indicted and charged along with his fellow conspirator Thomas Gibbs, 18, of planning to and committing a civil rights violation by damaging the Islamic Center in their hometown.
The two individuals came under the cover of darkness, with Stout wearing a Soviet gas mask, and defaced the property by using spray paint to create profane messages about Allah. This occurred on several areas of the building’s exterior and made the discovery of the messages an obvious and despairing moment for those who discovered the vandalism.
The other, perhaps more bizarre vandalism, occurred when the men decided to leave bacon around the property. Like Judaism, pork products such as bacon are forbidden for consumption by the adherents of Islam. Together, these two crimes showed that the men were defacing the property based on the religion of the individuals who attended, which is a very serious crime.
According to the Assistant United States Attorneys, Sara Beth Myers and Henry C. Leventi, who are prosecuting the case, Stout faced upwards of 20 years in prison for his role in the crime, but was allowed to enter a plea agreement that saw a much gentler punishment. Under the agreement, Stout will face a year of supervision and must pay for the damages that he inflicted upon the Islamic Center.
While the individuals who attend the Islamic Center could have taken this time to push for a punishment that was more severe, they have instead decided to move on. Recently, Stout appeared before a meeting of the members of the center and apologized for the crime that he committed, stating that “I wouldn’t want anyone to do that to my church and I can imagine the disappointment and the hurt and the fear I caused.” The members decided to forgive the young man, believing that this could be a teachable moment rather than a time to punish the individuals responsible.
Dr. Saleh M. Sbenaty, an outreach coordinator, said he met with Stout and that they wish to put the past behind them, allowing the criminals to move forward in their lives with new understanding and appreciation for the religions of others who share their community.
Stout faces his sentencing in August when the details of his repayment will be decided upon.