Texas Synagogue Arsonist Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

Austin Police Department
Austin Police Department

A federal judge handed a 20-year-old man a 10-year prison sentence for setting the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Austin, Texas, on fire in 2021. Franklin Sechriest, who must also pay a fine of $470,000, pleaded guilty in April to arson and hate crime charges. Prosecutors said that he had “deeply held” antisemitic and racist beliefs, citing other racially-motivated crimes he committed. During the Wednesday sentencing hearing, Sechriest’s lawyer restated that his client had been diagnosed with autism and suffered from mental illness that made him vulnerable to being “groomed” and “radicalized” online by hate groups. But members of Congregation Beth Israel, including Executive Director Jake Cohen, told the court that the arson damaged the synagogue’s “communal identity” of being welcoming to the public. Kelly Levy, a rabbi at Beth Israel, told the American-Statesman that she hoped Sechriest could change his beliefs and “return back to that way of loving the world.”

Read it at Austin American-Statesman

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