Jonathan Caine, 20, of Nashville, Tenn., pleaded guilty today to a federal hate crime for making racially motivated threats to an African-American assistant football coach at a local high school, the Justice Department announced.
Caine, formerly a student and football player at the high school where the victim works as a coach, pleaded guilty to threatening the victim with violence because of the victim’s race and employment before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Bryant in federal court in Nashville, Tenn.
According to the information presented in court, Caine made repeated anonymous threats to the assistant coach, and others in the high school administration, which included racial slurs and references to violent acts. In court, Caine admitted that on Aug. 10, 2012, he left an anonymous threatening voice mail on the assistant coach’s cellular phone, saying, “And thus sayeth the Lord all [epithet] shall be killed. Amen, amen I say to you [unintelligible] as the Lord Christ says if a [epithet] shall be born unto thee, the [epithet] shall be killed.” Caine admitted that he targeted the coach because of the coach’s race. Prior to law enforcement identifying Caine as the caller, the team took security measures to protect the coach.
“The Department of Justice will not hesitate to prosecute such acts of hate-motivated intimidation,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division. “Hate crimes have no place in our society; not only did this former student and player threaten his coach’s safety, he violated the victim’s civil rights by using racist, discriminatory language. The Civil Rights Division will remain vigilant in our efforts to bring these individuals to justice.”
“When individuals choose to act out their hatred by making threats based on a person’s race, they can expect to face prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said U.S. Attorney David Rivera for the Middle District of Tennessee. “Every arm of the Justice Department is committed to protecting the civil rights of all individuals and insuring they remain free from acts of violence and intimidation when those acts are based on the color of their skin.”
Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 24, 2014. Caine faces a statutory maximum penalty of a 12-month sentence in prison and a $100,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the Nashville Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Blanche Cook of the Middle District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Nicholas Murphy of the Civil Rights Division.