clearn.png
Sunday December 15th, 2019 12:58AM

Woman who lifted Arizona mosque items gets probation

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

PHOENIX (AP) — A woman captured on video making derogatory comments about Muslims as she and a friend lifted Qurans and other items from an Arizona mosque was sentenced Tuesday to two years of probation for an aggravated criminal damage conviction.

Tahnee Savanna Gonzales was ordered to complete 225 hours of community service and write a letter of apology to the mosque where she, an adult friend and Gonzales' three children took pamphlets, fliers and other items from a fenced-in courtyard behind the place of worship.

Gonzales, who faces a 30-day deferred jail sentence if she does not satisfactorily complete her probation, posted a social-media video of the encounter — including footage of her starting a shouting match with a Muslim man after he walked out of the mosque and tried to pet her dog.

"Muslims are not all terrorists any more than Christians are all (Oklahoma City bomber) Timothy McVeigh," Superior Court Judge Mark Brain told Gonzales before he handed down the sentence.

Prosecutor Neha Bhatia sought three years of probation and a 90-day deferred jail sentence, saying Gonzales brought her children along as she desecrated the mosque.

Gonzales apologized and said she now views the crime as a moral failing on her part and has reflected on how the encounter negatively affected her children.

"I am sorry for my decision to attack one of the most sacred of all liberties," she said, referring to the freedom of religion.

Marc Victor, an attorney representing Gonzales, said his client now sees that her earlier generalized beliefs about Muslims were a mistake and noted that she has since faced public humiliation for her behavior at the mosque, which aired on TV in Phoenix.

"Her crime is that she was horribly uneducated," Victor said.

Gonzales' friend, Elizabeth Ann Dauenhauer, previously pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal damage stemming from the encounter and was sentenced to 18 months of probation and 200 hours of community service. Dauenhauer also expressed remorse when she was sentenced.

The two women had been known for making anti-Muslim statements at political events in metro Phoenix. When they went to the mosque in the suburb of Tempe, they walked past a no-trespassing sign posted on a gate to the courtyard, where only members of the mosque were allowed.

It was unclear which of the two women walked away with the Qurans.

Gonzales and Dauenhauer did not have the Qurans when they were arrested days after they went to the mosque and the Qurans were never recovered by police, said Amanda Steele, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, which prosecuted the case.

Gonzales, who does most of the talking during the 23-minute video, complains in the footage about Sharia law and said Muslims engage in bestiality and are destroying America.

When she sees a no-guns sign on a gate on mosque property, Gonzales said, "Ahhh, but they carry around AKs and kill people all the time."

Near the end of the video, the two women, children and their dogs stood in the parking lot as a man exited the mosque.

One of the dogs trotted over to the man, who, in response to a question from Gonzales, later identified himself as a practicing Muslim.

"Stay away from our dogs, please. Don't eat them," Gonzales told the man, prompting a guffaw from Dauenhauer.

"Really?" the man responded, later explaining that he was trying to be peaceful and did not understand what Gonzales was talking about.

The encounter turned into a shouting match with Gonzales yelling insults at the man.

Before Gonzales pleaded guilty to the aggravated criminal damage in April, her lawyers contended her comments were protected by the First Amendment.

They also said the mosque was open to the public and allowed people to take the kind of material that Gonzales and Dauenhauer walked away with.

As part of her plea deal, other charges against Gonzales were dismissed.

____

Follow Jacques Billeaud at www.twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Trump eases up, makes nice with May before she steps down
President Donald Trump is easing up on his frequent criticism of outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May over her handling of the tortured Brexit deal
3:36PM ( 9 minutes ago )
The Latest: Sen. Kaine applauds governor's gun-control call
Sen. Tim Kaine is applauding Gov. Ralph Northam's call for a special legislative session to change Virginia's gun laws
3:36PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Maine legislators OK assisted suicide; bill goes to governor
Maine's Legislature has passed a bill to effectively legalize doctor-assisted suicide
3:34PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
In Michigan, Warren touts plan to boost US manufacturing
Elizabeth Warren is launching her 1st tour of Michigan as a Democratic presidential candidate with a proposal to boost domestic manufacturing
3:06PM ( 39 minutes ago )
Virginia governor announces special session on gun control
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is summoning state lawmakers for a special session on gun-control, saying Friday's mass shooting in Virginia Beach calls for "votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers."
2:56PM ( 49 minutes ago )
Joe Biden's $5T climate plan: Net zero emissions by 2050
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is pitching a $5 trillion-plus climate action proposal that he says would lead to an economy with a net zero emission of carbon pollution by 2050.
2:48PM ( 57 minutes ago )
AP National News
Trump eases up, makes nice with May before she steps down
President Donald Trump is easing up on his frequent criticism of outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May over her handling of the tortured Brexit deal
3:36PM ( 9 minutes ago )
The Latest: Sen. Kaine applauds governor's gun-control call
Sen. Tim Kaine is applauding Gov. Ralph Northam's call for a special legislative session to change Virginia's gun laws
3:36PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Maine legislators OK assisted suicide; bill goes to governor
Maine's Legislature has passed a bill to effectively legalize doctor-assisted suicide
3:34PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Dad guilty of killing 5 kids faces possible death sentence
A jury has found a South Carolina father guilty of killing his five children
3:31PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Missouri subpoenas abortion clinic doctors amid legal battle
Attorneys for the state of Missouri have subpoenaed physicians from the state's only abortion clinic amid a legal fight over the facility's license
3:28PM ( 17 minutes ago )