Friday, 19 April 2013

Two men plead guilty in federal court to beating, robbing man because he's gay

Two men plead guilty in federal court to beating, robbing man because he's gay, Two men pleaded guilty Thursday to beating a 20-year-old man because he’s gay and officials said it is the first case in Georgia to charge a violation of the sexual orientation section of the federal hate crimes law.

Mr. Christopher Cain, 19, and Mr. Dorian Moragne, 21, both of Atlanta, were already sentenced to 10 years in prison in state court for the violent attack that was captured on video and posted online, according to the United States Attorney General’s Office.

Now they face additional time for the hate crime —but this time in federal prison.

“Violence against another person because of his or her sexual orientation has no place in our civilized society,” United States Attorney Mrs. Sally Quillian Yates said. “The citizens of this district should know that we are committed aggressively prosecuting hate crimes.”

On Feb. 4, 2012, Mr. Cain, Mr. Moragne and Mr. Dareal Demare Williams, who were all associated with the Jack City street gang, assaulted Mr. Brandon White as he left a grocery store in Atlanta’s Pittsburgh neighborhood.

Mr. Cain punched the victim in the head and pushed him to the ground.

“Cain, Moragne and the juvenile surrounded the victim and repeatedly punched and kicked him while the group yelled anti-gay epithets, including 'no f.... in Jack City,'" prosecutors said in a news release.

Mr. Moragne then picked up a tire and struck him, prosecutors said. The group also stole the victim’s cell phone.

While the three repeatedly punched and kicked Mr. White, a fourth person caught the violence on video.

Mr. White, who was attacked in front of a corner market at 1029 McDaniel St., was not seriously injured. And days after the attack, he spoke about the incident. But he has remained quiet since then.

“At first I was embarrassed,” Mr. White said, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But if they are willing to put it out there, I’m going to face it. I shouldn’t have to look over my shoulder just because I’m gay.”

Video footage of the attack came to the attention of police and the FBI when it was posted online, and it led to the arrest of the three men. Police are still searching for the fourth suspect, Mr. Javaris Bradford.

Mr. Cain, Mr. Moragne and Mr. Williams were sentenced in July to serve five years behind bars, followed by five years on probation. Mr. Williams was charged as an adult in Georgia, but as a juvenile, is currently not facing federal charges, prosecutors said.

As part of a plea agreement, federal prosecutors recommended that federal and state sentences run concurrently for Mr. Cain and Mr. Moragne.

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