Michael Cassidy of Mississippi, accused of destroying a pagan statue, is charged with a hate crime.

The destruction of the statue has drawn sharp criticism from national leaders, including Iowa governor Kim Reynolds and Florida governor Ron DeSantis, both Republicans.

The figure depicting the horned god Baphomet was allegedly destroyed "beyond repair".

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A document made public on Tuesday accused Cassidy of "malicious intent," which constitutes a third-degree felony.

The court alleges that the act was committed "in violation of individual rights" under Iowa's hate crime law.


"Evidence shows that the defendant made statements to law enforcement and the public stating that he destroyed the statue for religious reasons," the district attorney's office said in a statement.

Cassidy's lawyer, Sara Pasquale, declined to comment on the new charge.

The young man had previously been accused in court of destroying the statue only "with the intention of arousing strong emotions and provoking others."

The man, who is expected to be charged with a hate crime, is scheduled to appear in court on February 15.

More than $84,000 has been raised from nearly 2,000 supporters for the defendant's defense.