A Bloomington man is charged with institutional criminal mischief after admitting to police he vandalized the Brown County church where he is employed.
George Nathaniel “Nathan” Stang works at St. David’s Episcopal Church as an organist. Police say they do not believe the crime was motivated by anti-Christian or anti-LGBT hate.
“Stang stated that he wanted to mobilize a movement after being disappointed in and fearful of the outcome of the national election,” Brown County Prosecutor Ted Adams said in a statement.
Court documents say shortly after the presidential election in November, Stang, who is gay, called Reverend Kelsey Hutto to let her know the church building had been vandalized. The vandalism included “Heil Trump,” a swastika and an anti-gay slur spray-painted on the exterior of the building.
According to a press release, Brown County Police believed the vandalism was committed by someone familiar with the church, who would have known the congregation performs weddings for same-sex couples. Investigators examined cell phone tower data and determined Stang was near the church on the day of the vandalism, despite his claim that he was not in the area that day.
Detective Brian Shrader of the Brown County Sheriff’s Department says he recorded a conversation with Stang last week, where Stang admitted to the vandalism.
“I suppose I wanted to give local people a reason to fight for good even if it was a false flag,” Stang wrote in a statement for prosecutors. “I of course realize now that this was NOT the way to go about inspiring activism.”
In a statement posted to Facebook Wednesday afternoon, Reverend Kelsey Hutto said the news came as a complete surprise to church staff.
“We will walk the fine line of forgiveness and welcoming into our midst while still holding Nathan responsible,” Hutto wrote. “Nathan is a member of our St. David’s family and naturally there is a certain amount of betrayal with this act.”
The church will hold a vestry meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, with a service
The case will be filed in Brown County Circuit Court. Brown County Police say Stang was arrested Wednesday morning and was released on bond.
This post has been updated.