Two Murfreesboro Men Indicted For Conspiracy And Civil Rights Violations In Islamic Center Vandalism
A federal grand jury in Nashville, Tennessee, yesterday, returned an indictment charging two Murfreesboro men, Charles Dwight Stout, III, 19, and Thomas Avery Gibbs, 18, with conspiring to commit a civil rights violation and committing a civil rights violation through damaging and defacing the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.
The indictment was announced by Donald Cochran, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, and Michael T. Gavin, Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis Field Office of the FBI.
The indictment alleges that Charles Stout and Thomas Gibbs vandalized the Islamic Center by placing bacon, a pork product forbidden by Islam, around an entrance; spray painted profane references to Allah on multiple parts of the Center’s exterior; concealed their identity in the commitment of these crimes by wearing masks; and the mask worn by Stout was a World War II-era Nazi gas mask.
The indictment also alleges that following the vandalism, Stout destroyed the clothing that he wore and permanently deleted the photographs of the vandalism that he took with his cell phone. Stout was previously indicted on August 30, 2017, for obstructing a federal investigation by deleting photographic evidence.
Members of the Islamic Center discovered the vandalism when they attended Morning Prayer on July 10, 2017, and immediately reported it to law enforcement.
If convicted, both men face up to a year in prison. An indictment is merely an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
U.S. Attorney Cochran commended the work of the FBI and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, who worked together to investigate this case and identify the suspects. Assistant United States Attorneys Sara Beth Myers and Henry C. Leventis are prosecuting the case.