The US Justice Department announced the indictment Monday of an Ohio man who allegedly tried to burn down a church hosting drag shows after watching internet videos of French drag performances.
Aimenn Penny was charged with arson, possession of an incendiary device and obstruction of worship after he was arrested last month for throwing Molotov cocktails at the Community Church of Chesterland, Ohio.
According to court filings Penny was a member of the neo-Nazi White Lives Matter group and attacked the church on March 25, one week before it planned to host two drag show events.
On March 11 he and members of the group protested a drag queen story hour in Wadsworth, Ohio, allegedly carrying Nazi flags and “shouting racial and homophobic slurs,” the filings said.
The attack caused limited damage to the church, wrecking a sign and scorching a door, according to investigators.
An FBI affidavit said they interviewed Penny later on March 31 and he admitted undertaking the attack.
“Penny stated that he was trying to protect children and stop the drag show event,” the affidavit said.
“Penny stated that night he became more and more angry after watching internet videos of news feeds and drag shows in France and decided to attack the church,” it said.
The case came amid nationwide controversy over communities, schools and libraries hosting drag shows and “drag story hours” against objections by social and religious conservatives.
Penny faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for violating the Church Arson Prevention Act, and a mandatory minimum of five years and maximum of 20 years in prison for malicious use of explosive materials.