Vanita Gupta, the head of the Civil Rights Division, and William C. Killian, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, announced today that a federal grand jury in Knoxville, Tennessee, returned a one-count indictment charging Robert Doggart, 63, with soliciting another person to violate federal civil rights laws by burning down a mosque in Islamberg, a hamlet in Hancock, New York.
According to court documents, Doggart planned an attack on Islamberg, a small settlement that is home to a large Muslim community. Doggart’s plans included burning a mosque, a school and a cafeteria in the community, and he solicited others to join in his plan through Facebook posts and in telephone conversations.
Doggart has been charged with one count of soliciting others to violate federal civil rights laws by intentionally defacing, damaging or destroying any religious property, because of the religious character of that property, or attempting to do so. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Saeed Mody and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Perry H. Piper and Chris Poole of the Eastern District of Tennessee.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.