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Tennessee man pleads guilty in series of church fires

October 20, 2021 GMT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee man pleaded guilty Wednesday to civil rights violations for setting fires at four churches, prosecutors said.

Alan Douglas Fox, 28, of Nashville, admitted during the plea hearing that he intentionally set the fires because of the churches’ religious character, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release.

The fires were set at the Crievewood United Methodist Church on June 17, 2019; the Crievewood Baptist Church on June 25, 2019; the Saint Ignatius of Antioch Catholic Church on June 25, 2019; and the Priest Lake Community Baptist Church on June 26, 2019. He also pleaded guilty to carrying and using a firearm during the fire at the Crievewood Baptist Church.

“The freedom to practice the religion we choose, without discrimination or danger, is a fundamental civil right in our nation and a hallmark of our democracy,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Fox will be sentenced in federal court on Feb. 11. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each fire and a consecutive five-year sentence for the firearms violation.