Man Admits To Burning Down LGBT-Inclusive Church, But Cops Say It’s Not Hate Crime

Earlier this month we reported on a tragic fire that consumed the South Bloomingville Christian Church, a gay-affirmative house of worship, on August 17. Now the culprit, Donald Lee Williams, has come forward and confessed, according to the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators said that Williams, 36, started the blaze by throwing a rock through a church window and setting a curtain on fire with his lighter.

“Our suspect, Mr. Williams, admitted to the arson,” said Hocking County Sheriff Lanny North. “He did not implicate anyone else other than himself.”

Bishop Scott Davis had said he believed the fire was a bias crime because the church welcomes LGBT parishioners, but Hocking County Sheriff Lanny North said Williams claimed he started the fire as payback for being assaulted by someone connected with the church last summer: “I believe it brings some closure to the area that wasn’t, per se, a hate crime, as the bishop portrayed it to be,” said North. “It was more a revenge crime for what the suspect had endured in 2011.”

We hope Sheriff  North has more of a basis to make that determination than just the word of Williams, who obviously wouldn’t want to be additionally penalized with any hate-crime mandates when it’s time for his sentencing.

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  • Neo

    It’s only a hate crime when a gay man or a lesbian or transgendered person defends themselves and they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

  • PTBoat

    Um, condemning a group for the, real or perceived actions of one is what makes a hate cri crime. Someday there will be justice.

  • Mr. Enemabag Jones

    So he waited over a year to get revenge–on the church? A guy shoots one bullet in FRC’s office, and he’s a domestic terrorist. But this guy is just disgruntled.

  • Neo

    @Mr. Enemabag Jones: Yes, the double standards in the media are utterly atrocious. Another radical christian republican went nuts with a gun today but it is “yet another weird loner” as opposed to domestic terrorist.

  • Jessie R

    I have family that lives down there, and I think that I’ll believe it isn’t a hate crime when I see flying pigs in the Hocking Hills.

  • tdx3fan

    This is why the Mathew Shepherd act was enacted. If federal prosecutors want to, they can take over this case and try it as a hate crime.

    Also, this is very different than the shooting at FRC. I might not like FRC, but torching an UNOCCUPIED building is MUCH different then bringing a gun into an OCCUPIED building and then shooting and wounding someone.

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