Teen pleads guilty to vandalizing synagogue in his D.C.-area town

Julie Wiener

(JTA) — A teenager has pleaded guilty to vandalizing a synagogue in his suburban Washington, D.C., hometown.

Sebastian Espinoza-Carranza, 18, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Montgomery County District Court in Rockville to charges of defacing religious property and malicious destruction of property, the Montgomery Community Media reported.

Espinoza-Carranza, whose sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 20, was arrested on April 14 for spray-painting anti-Semitic graffiti, including swastikas, on the walls, windows and doors of Shaare Torah Synagogue one week earlier.

He is expected to avoid jail time and instead to be required to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, write an essay and help repair the synagogue.

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In an email to MyMCMedia, Shaare Torah Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal said that before pleading guilty, Espinoza-Carranza met with him and other representatives of the Conservative congregation, apologizing both in person and in writing.

“I am hopeful that as Mr. Espinoza-Carranza moves through this process, including commitments made in the sentencing process as determined by the courts, we will achieve full forgiveness and reconciliation,” Blumenthal said.

At the time of his arrest, the teen told detectives that he carried out the attack on the Shaare Torah Synagogue because he disliked the Jewish people who worshipped there, the WTOP radio station reported.

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