A Tennessee man pleaded guilty today to civil rights violations for a series of church arsons.
Alan Douglas Fox, 28, of Nashville, pleaded guilty to all counts of an information charging him with setting fire to 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; and with carrying and using a firearm during the arson of the Crievewood Baptist Church. During the plea hearing, Fox admitted to intentionally setting the fires because of the religious character of the four churches.
“The defendant in this case set fire to four Christian churches, causing fear and anguish to church members and their denominations. 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. “The Justice Department will continue to prosecute, to the fullest extent of the law, those who target and harm houses of worship because of bigotry and prejudice.”
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will always pursue those, who by their malicious actions, infringe upon our freedom of religion,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Mary Jane Stewart of the Middle District of Tennessee. “I commend our law enforcement partners and our prosecution team for bringing this individual to justice.”
U.S. District Judge Eli J. Richardson of the Middle District of Tennessee scheduled sentencing for Feb. 11, 2022. By the terms of the plea, Fox faces up to 20 years in prison for each fire and a consecutive five-year sentence for the firearms violation.
The FBI, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, and the Nashville Fire Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Beth Myers and Trial Attorney Kyle Boynton of the Department’s Civil Rights Division are prosecuting it.