A federal judge has released a man from Massachusetts into detention after he was accused of trying to set fire to a Jewish-sponsored life center.
A federal judge released a Massachusetts man on Wednesday to a confinement home after he was accused of trying to set fire to a Jewish-sponsored life center.
Judge Katherine Robertson acquitted John Michael Rathbun, 36, shortly after he was charged with arson attempts.
The judge’s decision to collect written objections from the U.S. Prosecutor Steven Breslow, who wrote that Robertson’s decision to release Rathbun “appears to have been greatly influenced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
Breslow added that while the pandemic had created “commendable” fears, the reason was not a solid basis for freeing East Longmeadow residents, which posed aviation risk and public safety risk.
Officers found a full gas canister that had a Christian pamphlet burned in a nozzle at the entrance to Ruth’s House in Longmeadow on April 2.
Authorities later found blood stains on tubes and pamphlets and traced DNA back to Rathbun, according to police written statements.
Prosecutors described the alleged crime as an act of anti-Semitic violence.
The Boston Globe reported that federal public defender Rathbun declined to comment, except to say that he would submit a written response to the prosecutor’s objections to the release order.
Ruth’s House is a center of Jewish-sponsored living aid for seniors of all faiths, according to a news release from the US Attorney General for Massachusetts. Located within 1 square mile of several other Jewish facilities, including three Jewish temples, a private Jewish school and a Jewish Community Center.
The lawyer’s office said the center was being discussed on a white supremacy online platform before gas could be found.