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Press Release

Missouri Man Charged with Federal Hate Crime and Arson for Burning Down a Church

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department announced that Christopher Scott Pritchard, 46, has been charged with hate crime and arson violations for burning down the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Sayler A. Fleming for the Eastern District of Missouri and Acting Special Agent in Charge Akil Davis for the FBI St. Louis Field Office made the announcement.

According to court documents, Pritchard is charged with intentionally obstructing parishioners of the church in the enjoyment of their free exercise of religious beliefs and using fire to commit a federal felony. If convicted, Pritchard faces up to 20 years in prison for obstructing the parishioners and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, for using fire to commit a federal felony. Pritchard also faces a fine of up to $250,000 with respect to each charge.

These charges are the result of an investigation by the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, the Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Shan Patel and Noah Coakley of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Hahn for the Eastern District of Missouri.

For more information and resources on the department’s efforts to combat hate crimes, visit

An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated May 5, 2022

Civil Rights
Hate Crimes
Press Release Number: 22-475