Jean-Claude Bridges, Virginia Teen, Pleads Guilty To Setting Largely Black Church On Fire (VIDEO)

01/09/2013 07:29 pm ET

In court on Tuesday morning, a Virginia teenager admitted to setting a church known to have a predominately black congregation on fire.

According to WDBJ, Jean-Claude Bridges, now 18, pleaded guilty to starting the blaze at The New Holy Deliverance Outreach Ministry in Axton, Va.

Bridges said that he and another "juvenile" were responsible for the fire that had been initiated at about 1:20 a.m. on May 20.

Bridges was 17 at the time of the crime. Another male teenager, then 16, was also present, according to a Fox News report from May last year.

According to a recent press release, cited by the Martinsville Bulletin, United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said Bridges admitted that "he burned down the church because of the race, color and ethnicity of its congregation."

“Mr. Bridges’ racial bias led him to commit the dangerous crime of arson,” Heaphy said, according to the release.

“When he set fire to the New Holy Deliverance Outreach Ministry, he endangered neighbors and first responders. This act of prejudice offended the entire community. This office will protect the civil rights of everyone and vigorously prosecute crimes like that committed by Mr. Bridges. Racism has no place in Axton or anywhere else in the Western District of Virginia," Heaphy continued.

Bridges could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and/or face fine of up to $250,000.

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