Colorado Church Arsonist Sentenced To 39 Months In Prison

A Colorado man was sentenced to 39 months in federal prison for a hate crime on Tuesday after deliberately setting fire to a church in Loveland, Colorado, last year.

According to court documents, Darion Ray Sexton, 22, admitted to intentionally setting the Abiding Love Lutheran Church on fire on the evening of January 19, 2023. The fire was caused by two Molotov cocktails being thrown at the front door and basement of the church.

Sexton stated that he started the fire because of the “religious character of the church” and wanted to destroy it, the U.S. Justice Department stated in a release. He pleaded guilty on May 5, 2023, to a federal hate crime charge.

Firefighters responded immediately and were able to extinguish the fire at the entrance, while the church’s sprinkler system extinguished the fire in the basement.

The FBI, ATF, and Loveland Police and Fire Departments investigated the incident, according to the release.

Special Agent in Charge Mark D. Michaelk of the FBI Denver Field Office stated that the FBI would give full attention to anyone who attacks a house of worship.

“This defendant admitted he set out to destroy this church, which was determined to be a federal hate crime,” said Michaelk. “FBI Denver worked with the Loveland Police Department to bring this man to justice.”

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division shared similar comments. She said that the department’s top priority is to protect religious freedom.

“This defendant has now been held accountable for his deliberate attack on the church,” said in a statement. “No one should live in fear because of their religious beliefs. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute those who seek to destroy houses of worship and interfere with the fundamental right to practice religion freely.”

While Sexton could have received a maximum of 20 years in prison, along with a $250,000 fine, he entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors, according to the release.

Many on social media pointed out Sexton’s short sentence. One X user posted that he got off easy.

Another user pointed out that Jan. 6 protestors who did not enter the Capitol got more time.