Firebombed church files lawsuit against suspect, White Lives Matter group members

Firebombed church files lawsuit against suspect, White Lives Matter group members

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CHESTERLAND, Ohio (WJW) – A church that was firebombed in Geauga County has filed a lawsuit against the attacker and the White Lives Matter group he was a part of.

The Community Church of Chesterland is suing Aimenn D. Penny, 20, who was arrested for throwing a Molotov cocktail at the church on March 25, 2023, because the church had planned to host a drag-related reading hour for all ages the following weekend.

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The Community Church of Chesterland filed the lawsuit on Wednesday, April 10, against Penny and other members of the White Lives Matter Group. According to the lawsuit, the church is seeking compensation for the damages from the attack.

Penny admitted to the attack when interviewed by FBI agents, according to his criminal affidavit, saying “he was trying to protect children and stop the drag show event.”

The church was unoccupied at the time of the attack and sustained minimal damage, owners said. But Penny told agents “he would have felt better” if the Molotov cocktails were more effective and “burned the entire church to the ground.”

Authorities said Penny is a known member of Ohio’s White Lives Matter group, which FBI Special Agent Lane Thorum noted in Penny’s affidavit is known to have “racist, pro-Nazi and homophobic views.”

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In April of 2023, Penny was indicted by a grand jury on two counts of arson, one count of obstructing freedom of religion and one count of possession of a destructive device.

Penny pleaded guilty in October of 2023 to violating the Church Arson Prevention Act in his March 25, 2023, attack on the Community Church of Chesterland.

In January of 2024, Penny was sentenced to 18 years in prison and three years of supervision upon his release.

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