Jedediah Stout, 32, an Iraq War veteran, received a lighter-than-possible sentence –– 63 months –– because he confessed to the crimes and was given credit for “acceptance of responsibility” during a sentencing hearing Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Mo.
Stout pleaded guilty in April to one count of damaging religious property, two counts of arson at the Planned Parenthood office in Joplin and one count of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.
Stout, who calls himself a “conservative Christian,” told investigators that “he d
idn’t like the religion of Islam” and doesn’t “believe in abortions based upon his religious and personal beliefs,” the Joplin Globe reported Wednesday.
Stout told investigators that he “would like to see all [abortion] clinics converted into orphanages and that those who perform abortions arrested,” the newspaper reported. The Planned Parenthood clinic in Joplin does not perform abortions.
Stout was arrested by police on Oct. 4, 2013, walking on railroad tracks in Joplin, just a few blocks from a Planned Parenthood clinic where someone attempted to throw burning backpacks on the roof of the building two days in a row, court documents say.
After admitting those arson attempts, Stout confessed to setting fires at the Islamic Society of Joplin’s building on July 4, 2012, and on Aug. 7, 2012,” according to court documents.
The mosque was completely destroyed in the second attempt. as were cash donations collected during Ramadan. The mosque was rebuilt with an outpouring of community support.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta said the sentence should send “a clear message that violence targeting where people worship or access reproductive health care services violates federal law and carries severe consequences.”
Tammy Dickson, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, said no American “should fear being the victim of violence simply for exercising their constitutional rights. When hate and intolerance lead to criminal attacks, we will protect our citizens and defend their civil rights.”