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Ex-Mississippi House candidate pleads guilty to lesser charge after destroying Satanic display at Iowa capitol

Michael Cassidy (left) pleaded guilty on Friday to third-degree criminal mischief after vandalizing a Satanic display (right) inside the Iowa Statehouse. According to the Satanic Temple of Iowa, the display represented the congregation’s 7 Tenets while expressing religious freedom and equal opportunity to all religions celebrating holidays. Submitted photos.

Michael Cassidy, a former Mississippi congressional candidate who went viral last year after decapitating a Satanic display in Iowa, has had the hate crime charge pressed against him dropped.

On Friday, Cassidy revealed on social media that he pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal mischief in exchange for the dismissal of the hate crime enhancements and will now have to pay a fine for the incident that took place in mid-December. Cassidy was arrested after officials said he vandalized the Satanic Temple’s Baphomet display inside the Iowa state capitol, which was permitted by rules that govern religious installations inside the building.

“Not today, Satan. Pleased to announce the Iowa DA just dropped their absurd felony hate crime charge and instead offered a deferred judgment misdemeanor (a fine, no jail time, nothing permanent on my record), which I accepted,” Cassidy wrote on X. “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. When Christians stick together, we can, and we will, win.”

While Cassidy received flak from advocates for religious freedom, he also received support from right-wing Christians as well – hence, the use of “financially” in his social media post. All of the Republican’s legal fees were covered by over $134,000 raised in public donations.

Cassidy, 35, ran for Congress in Mississippi’s District 1, forcing a primary runoff against incumbent Rep. Michael Guest. Guest ultimately prevailed, going on to win a third term against his Democratic opponent. Cassidy did not wait long to get back on the campaign trail, running for a state representative seat before losing handily to a Democrat in the 2023 general election.

While Cassidy’s legal woes may be over in the state of Iowa, one of his attorneys confirmed to The Sentinel – a conservative publication that has been behind fundraisers for Cassidy – that he expects legal challenges from the U.S. Navy, which currently employs Cassidy as a flight instructor. Any excess contributions from the money raised so far will go toward the expected battle in court.

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