PHOENIX — A woman who was captured on video making derogatory comments about Muslims as she tore down fliers posted at an Arizona mosque was sentenced Thursday to 18 months of probation for her aggravated criminal damage conviction.
Elizabeth Ann Dauenhauer of Phoenix was with a friend and three children in March when Dauenhauer took down announcements on bulletin boards and removed pamphlets from bins in a fenced-in courtyard behind the mosque in Tempe. Qurans also were taken, but it’s unclear which of the two women was accused of walking away with them.
The two women, known for making anti-Muslim statements at political events in the Phoenix area, walked past a no-trespassing sign posted on a gate to the courtyard, where only members of the mosque were allowed to go without permission.
Dauenhauer, who also was ordered to complete 200 hours of community service, expressed remorse for her actions.
“I am very sorry for the people I hurt,” said Dauenhauer, who will have to serve one month in jail if it’s determined that she hasn’t followed the rules of probation.
A burglary charge stemming from the visit to the mosque was dismissed against Dauenhauer as part of her earlier agreement to plead guilty to aggravated criminal damage. Her sentence mirrored the punishments called for in her plea deal.
Dauenhauer, 52, faced fewer criminal charges than 32-year-old Tahnee Savanna Gonzales, who joined her at the mosque and posted video of the visit on her social media account. The video shows Gonzales starting a shouting match with a Muslim man after he walked out of the mosque and tried to pet her dog.
Gonzales has pleaded not guilty to burglary, aggravated criminal damage and other charges. Her trial is set for Jan. 10.
Lawyers for Gonzales contend her comments were protected by the First Amendment. They say the mosque is open to the public and intended for people to take the materials that Gonzales and Dauenhauer walked away with.
“I’m working on trying to achieve a positive result in this case,” Marc Victor, one of Gonzales’ lawyers, said in an email to The Associated Press.
Gonzales’ attorneys didn’t immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment on the case.
In the video, Dauenhauer refers to Muslims as Satan-worshippers and claimed the mosque had pamphlets on Islamic training camps in America and tips on getting more government assistance.
Dauenhauer stated the intent to take pamphlets from the mosque. “And there’s nothing they can do about it,” Dauenhauer said. In one clip taken in the courtyard, Dauenhauer holds a child in one hand as she takes away pamphlets with the other hand.
When standing on the mosque’s lawn, Dauenhauer snapped a photo of the children and Gonzales sitting atop a wall around the building, with their thumbs pointed downward in disapproval.
Later, one of the children climbed on the bumper of a funeral services van in the mosque’s parking lot, looking into the vehicle as Dauenhauer and Gonzales told the boy to get off bumper.
“Muslims have been on there,” Dauenhauer told the boy.
Gonzales does most of the talking during the 23-minute video. She said complains 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 guffaw from Dauenhauer.
“Really?” the man responded, later explaining that he was trying to be peaceful and didn’t understand what Gonzales was talking about.
Gonzales kept yelling insults at the man as the shouting match continued.
Gonzales faces a disorderly conduct charge for allegedly using abusive language toward a person at the mosque.
The parents of the three children who were with the two women at the mosque haven’t been publicly identified by authorities.
Even so, Gonzales faces three misdemeanor charges of permitting life, health and morals of a minor to be imperiled by neglect, abuse or immoral associations.
Follow Jacques Billeaud at www.twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud