COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien announced hate crime charges against a man accused of vandalizing an Islamic center in north Columbus.
According to O’Brien, Todd M. Williams, 44, has been charged with felony desecration, ethnic intimidation and criminal mischief in regards to vandalism at the Ahlul-Bayt Society Islamic Center located on Dublin Granville Road that occurred on February 11.
On that Saturday morning, while a group of people were worshiping inside, security cameras caught the man scrawling anti-Islamic graffiti on the mosque doors. O’Brien said the act and the messages were threatening in nature. “This was both designed to desecrate the mosque, a place of worship, as well as to send a message,” O’Brien said.
Perry Township police detective Rick Amweg said Williams was cooperative with investigators.
“He did admit to the crime during the interview process but in terms of giving us any indication as to why he may have done that – he provided no information,” Amweg said.
Roman Iqbal, legal director for the Columbus chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called the charges a positive development. Iqbal said the concern is that if an act of vandalism at a mosques goes unpunished, it might lead to more serious and violent offenses.
Prosecutor O’Brien said this grand jury indictment against Williams sends a message to the community.
“Here the message being sent is loud and clear – that hate crimes based on religious intolerance will be fully prosecuted,” said O’Brien.
Williams will be prosecuted in Franklin County Common Pleas.