A U.S. federal grand jury has issued the first-ever indictment to charge a violation of the sexual orientation section of the federal hate crimes law.
An email statement from the U.S. Justice Department noted that a federal grand jury in London, Ky., returned a three-count indictment charging David Jason Jenkins, 37, and Anthony Ray Jenkins, 20, for kidnapping and assaulting Kevin Pennington, an openly gay man. Both are also reportedly charged with conspiring with each other and with other unnamed individuals to commit the kidnapping.
The statement, also cited by Talking Points Memo, continues as follows:
The indictment alleges that on April 4, 2011, the two defendants kidnapped and assaulted Kevin Pennington because of Pennington’s sexual orientation. According to the indictment, the defendants enlisted two women to trick Pennington into getting into a truck with the defendants, so that the defendants could drive Pennington to a state park and assault him. According to the indictment, the defendants then drove Pennington a secluded area of the Kingdom Come State Park in Kentucky and assaulted him.
The indictment charges the men with committing a hate crime in violation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded federal jurisdiction to include certain assaults motivated by someone’s sexual orientation. This case marks the first federal hate crime charging a violation of the sexual orientation provision of the statute.
The Lexington Herald-Leader cites a court document that claims Jenkins' wife Alexis and sister Mable, cheered on the attack, yelling gay slurs such as "Kill that faggot."
Pennington also told the paper that he was able to run away during the attack, hiding in the woods until the four stopped looking for him.
As the email statement stressed, an indictment is only an accusation, and the defendants are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.