Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has recommended no jail time for a man who confessed to hate crimes against St. Louise Catholic Church in Bellevue, WA.

“Transgender” suspect Maeve Nota, a man who claims to be a woman, attacked the church building on June 28, 2022, smashing the glass doors, destroying a statue of the Blessed Mother, and spray-painting profane messages such as “F*** Catholics,” “kid groomers,” “woman haters,” and “rot in your fake hell.” Damage was estimated to be $30,000.

Thirty-one-year-old Nota also assaulted a church employee and resisted arrest, according to FOX News. Police originally stated that Nota “used a backpack full of spray paint cans to smash the police vehicle” when they located him, although the Bellevue, WA Police Twitter feed later claimed “the suspect was arrested without incident.”

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Officers arrested a 31yo Bellevue resident on suspicion off a hate crime and assault after allegedly spray painting St. Louise Parish, smashing two doors and assaulting an employee. The suspect was arrested without incident.

— Bellevue, WA Police (@BvuePD) June 28, 2022

According to The Daily Wire, “Investigators said Nota was angry that the Supreme had overturned the landmark abortion ruling in Roe vs. Wade, which occurred less than a week before the incident.”

In early March, the DOJ “charged Nota with misdemeanor destruction of religious property, which carries up to one year in prison and $100,000 in fines.” The DOJ made no mention of Nota assaulting a church worker or police vehicle.

Just one week later, however, the DOJ amended its recommendation to what critics are calling a “sweet-pea deal”: no jail time and three years of probation. Nota will face sentencing on June 2.

FACE Act Background

Critics have condemned the move, pointing out that the DOJ has prosecuted many pro-life activists for their activities outside of abortion facilities while making fewer than 10 arrests in connection with over 230 attacks committed against Catholic churches and pregnancy resource centers (PRC’s) just since the Supreme Court Dobbs decision leaked in May 2022.

Attorney General Merrick Garland testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that his agency has been unable to prosecute attacks on churches and pro-life organizations because they occur “at night, in the dark.”

The DOJ used the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act to prosecute dozens of pro-life activists in the last year, including Catholic pro-life advocate Mark Houck. In September 2022, FBI agents stormed the home of Catholic pro-life activist Mark Houck and arrested him at gunpoint in front of his wife and seven children. Charged under the FACE Act for an alleged altercation outside an abortion facility, Houck was later acquitted.

Houck, if convicted, faced an 11-year prison term for shoving a pro-abortion activist who was heckling Houck’s ten-12-year-old son. Nota, however, has not been charged under the FACE Act, which forbids disturbances at houses of worship as well as abortion facilities.

A Hate Crime?

While Nota was charged with a hate crime, the DOJ’s recommendation does not reflect its hard-hitting language on prosecuting such crimes.

The DOJ website indicates: “At the federal level, hate crime laws include crimes motivated by bias” against a victim’s perceived “race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.” Washington state has adopted all of these categories under its own hate crime laws as well.

The website directs anyone who suspects or is a victim of a hate crime to contact the FBI, which is responsible for investigating and bringing federal hate crime cases to trial.

The conviction rate for hate crimes was 94% between 2015 – 2019, and 85% of those convicted were sentenced to prison (on average, 7.5 years). In November 2021, for example, the DOJ announced that a white supremacist had been sentenced to a full year in prison for conspiring to vandalize the properties of Jewish and black Americans.

Nota’s plea agreement, with its three-year probation, would stand out in sharp contrast to previous hate crime prosecutions.

“The Biden DOJ isn’t even pretending any more. There’s no equality under the law when you see plea deals like this right next to the anti-Catholic prosecution of men like Mark Houck,” said CatholicVote President Brian Burch. “This is the weaponization of the FBI and justice system against the political enemies of the administration. And we will not back down.”

LifeNews Note: Erika Ahern writes for CatholicVote, where this column originally appeared.

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