Ohio Church Arson Attempt: Man Sentenced to 18 Years for Targeting Drag Story Hour Event

By worldwidetracers.com Jan 31, 2024

Ohio Church Arson Attempt: Man Sentenced to 18 Years for


Ohio-In a shocking incident in March 2023, an Ohio man, Aimenn D. Penny, has been sentenced to 18 years in federal prison for attempting to burn down the Community Church of Chesterland. The church was preparing to host two drag show events, and the perpetrator’s actions were deemed an extremist act against the congregation’s right to freely express their beliefs. Penny, who pleaded guilty to federal charges, faced accusations of violating the Church Arson Prevention Act and using fire and explosives to commit a felony. This article delves into the details of the incident, the legal proceedings, and the community’s response to this act of violence.


Ohio-The Criminal Act

Ohio-Aimenn D. Penny’s criminal actions unfolded in March 2023, just a week before the scheduled drag show events at the Community Church of Chesterland. The US Department of Justice reported that Penny used Molotov cocktails in an attempt to burn the church down. In an interview with the FBI, Penny admitted to his crime, revealing his motive to “protect children and stop the drag show event.” The affidavit also alleged that Penny .

Ohio-The aftermath of the attempted arson was discovered by the church on March 25. They reported scorch marks on the front door and a damaged sign on the building’s exterior. Broken glass pieces from a vodka bottle and a beer bottle, both containing cloth-type material, were found at the crime scene, along with a burnt matchstick and a blue plastic spray bottle filled with gasoline near the damaged door.

Ohio-Legal Proceedings and Guilty Plea

Ohio-In October, Aimenn D. Penny pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Church Arson Prevention Act and one count of using fire and explosives to commit a felony. The Justice Department announced this plea in a news release, highlighting that Penny would face a substantial sentence of 18 years in prison. Additionally, he would be subjected to three years of supervised release following his imprisonment.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division emphasized the significance of the sentence, stating, “This sentence holds Mr. Penny accountable for carrying out violence against an Ohio church because he disagreed with the way congregants chose to express their beliefs.” Olsen condemned acts of extremist violence, asserting that they have no place in communities, and reiterated the Justice Department’s commitment to upholding citizens’ fundamental rights.

Motivation and Extremist Ideology

During the FBI interview, Penny revealed his motivation, claiming he sought to protect children and prevent the drag show event. The affidavit suggested that Penny’s involvement with the White Lives Matter neo-Nazi group influenced his actions. Investigators found evidence of his extremist affiliations during a search of his home, which included a Nazi flag and memorabilia, a gas mask, and gas cans, among other items.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke emphasized the biased nature of Penny’s violence in the Justice Department’s release, stating, “This defendant tried to burn down a church simply because its members created space for and provided support to the LGBTQ+ community.” Clarke asserted that the Justice Department would vigorously investigate and prosecute such bias-motivated violence against individuals exercising their constitutionally protected rights.

Community Response and Church’s Resilience

Despite the traumatic event, the Community Church of Chesterland proceeded with its drag show events, including a drag queen story hour and brunch, the weekend following the arson attempt. Rev. Jess Peacock, the church’s minister, shared with CNN that it was not the first time the church had been targeted. While expressing the congregation’s desire for Penny to be prosecuted to the fullest extent, Peacock also conveyed the church’s forgiveness towards him.

In response to the sentencing, Peacock took to Facebook, acknowledging the hate and ignorance that motivated Penny’s actions. However, he highlighted that the incident had inspired hundreds of people and organizations to offer donations and support. Peacock’s post conveyed a message of resilience, stating, “You wanted to spread fear and hate, but you actually managed to make us stronger as a congregation and as a community.” Despite the physical damage to the building, Peacock emphasized that the church’s strength lay in its community spirit.


The sentencing of Aimenn D. Penny to 18 years in prison for attempting to burn down the Community Church of Chesterland highlights the severity of bias-motivated violence against religious and LGBTQ+ communities. The legal proceedings underscore the commitment of the Justice Department to holding individuals accountable for acts of extremism that threaten fundamental rights. Despite the trauma inflicted upon the church, the community’s resilience and determination to stand firm against hatred have emerged as a powerful response, demonstrating that even in the face of adversity, unity prevails.

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