April 12, 2012

2 face federal hate crime charge in Ky. gay attack

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Two Kentucky men have been charged with a federal hate crime in a beating attack on a gay man in an Appalachian park, marking the first time the law has been applied in a U.S. case alleging bias over a victim's sexual orientation, authorities said.

The U.S. attorney's office in Lexington announced the charges against cousins David Jason Jenkins, 37, of Cumberland, and Anthony Ray Jenkins, 20, of Partridge. Both were indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this week in connection with the April 2011 attack that left victim Kevin Pennington with chest, head and other injuries.

The grand jury charged the men with violating a hate crime law that was expanded in 2009 to cover assaults motivated by bias against gays, lesbians and transgender people. They also were indicted on federal kidnapping, assault and conspiracy charges.

"The indictment marks the first federal case in the nation charging a violation of the sexual orientation section of the Federal Hate Crimes Law," said a U.S. Department of Justice statement.

"It's vindicating to see that the years of hard work that went into making sure this law was on the books is now being put into place," said Michael Cole-Schwartz, a spokesman for the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, which pushed for the law's passage.

"The bigger picture here is that the U.S. attorney's office is sending a message that you don't try to hurt someone and you don't injure them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity," said Jordan Palmer, president of the Kentucky Equality Foundation, a civil-rights group that lobbied the Department of Justice to intervene in the case.

David and Anthony Jenkins pleaded not guilty to the charges in federal court in London on Thursday. David Jenkins' lawyer, Andrew Stephens of Lexington, said Jenkins knew Pennington and Jenkins denies that he committed a hate crime.

"The hate crime component of this is just flat wrong," Stephens said. "I think it's very difficult to get into the mind of somebody and figure out what their intent is."

Kentucky Equality Federation, which advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, had asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the case.

Pennington also suffered injuries to his back, face, neck and ear in the attack at Kingdom Come State Park, a mountaintop park covering more than 1,200 acres of pristine pine-covered wilderness in the mountainous Appalachian region. He was subsequently treated and released from a hospital.

But Pennington remains emotionally scarred from the attack, Palmer said. He spoke with Pennington's mother on Thursday and she was pleased when she heard of the hate crime charges. She had contacted the group just hours after the attack on Pennington, Palmer said.

"I thought it was pretty sick when I heard about it," he said.

An FBI affidavit said Pennington was invited to go on an evening drive with two women he knew, but once he saw David and Anthony Jenkins in the truck, asked to be taken home. Pennington told investigators that David Jenkins demanded a sexual favor from Pennington, which was refused. Then the man said David Jenkins threatened to violently rape him, according to the affidavit.

The truck stopped in the park because a tree had fallen across the road and Anthony and David Jenkins pulled Pennington out of the truck and attacked him. The women in the truck, Alexis Leann Combs Jenkins and Mable Ashley Jenkins, have been charged with kidnapping and aiding a kidnapping, authorities said.

The men pulled Pennington out of their truck, hit him and kicked him while "making anti-homosexual statements," according to the FBI affidavit.

"During the attack (the victim) was covering his face and they were all screaming `how do you like this faggot?'" the affidavit said.

Pennington escaped, ran to a ranger station, broke a window to get inside and called police.

Kerry Harvey, U.S. Attorney for Kentucky's Eastern District, said Thursday that a possible conviction on the hate crime charge could send the two men to prison for life. He said the men used a truck and traveled on a federal highway with the victim, which allowed the case to fall under federal jurisdiction.

The law is known as the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Shephard was a gay college student killed in Wyoming in 1998.

"The law was really meant as a backstop so that the resources of the federal government could be brought to bear when necessary to deal with these kinds of crimes," Cole-Schwartz said.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20120412/us-hate-crime-gay-attack/

Kentucky men indicted under Matthew Shepard federal hate crime law


LEXINGTON, Ky. — A federal grand jury in London, Ky. on Thursday indicted two men in the first federal application of the Matthew Shepard-James C. Bryd hate crimes law since it was signed into law in October of 2009, according to an announcement by Kerry B. Harvey, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.


Anthony Ray Jenkins, 20, of Partridge, Ky., and his cousin, David Jason Jenkins, 37, of Cumberland, Ky., were charged with conspiracy, kidnapping and committing an act of violence based on the victim’s sexual orientation.
The Shepard-Byrd law criminalizes acts of physical violence which are motivated by numerous factors, including one’s race, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The law also helps provide federal resources for investigating crimes and indicting alleged criminals.
According to the indictment documents, the incident began when the two men, accompanied by Anthony Jenkins’ 19-year-old wife, Alexis Leann Combs Jenkins of Partridge, and his sister, Mable Ashley Jenkins, 19, took the victim Kevin Pennington, against his will into Kingdom Come State Park near Cumberland in Harlan County on April 4, 2011, and severely beat him while yelling slurs about his sexual orientation.
FBI Special Agent Anthony M. Sankey stated in an affidavit that the women allegedly cheered on the attack, yelling “kill that faggot.”
Pennington said he was able to escape during a lull in the attack, and hid in the woods until the four stopped looking for him.
Pennington said he suffered numerous injuries, including bruises over much of his body, a torn ligament in his shoulder, a closed-head injury and a torn ear.
Pennington told investigators that he
had gone for a ride with the four, but asked to be taken home after a few minutes. The group told the man they planned to go to Kingdom Come State Park near Cumberland in Harlan
County, then return home.
According to court documents, David Jenkins asked and then demanded oral sex from him, which was refused, after which David Jenkins threatened to violently rape him.
Special Agent Anthony M. Sankey wrote in the affidavit that the truck stopped in the park because a tree had fallen across the road and Anthony and David Jenkins pulled the man out of the truck, then hit and kicked him while “making anti-homosexual statements.”
“During the attack (the victim) was covering his face and they were all screaming ‘how do you like this faggot?’” Sankey wrote. “Ashley yelled `yeah that what you like queer were gonna kill your … now.’”
In hand-written statements to Harlan County law enforcement at the time of the incident, each of the four acknowledged having the man in the truck that night, and three of the four implicated David Jenkins as the instigator of the attack.
Authorities said David Jenkins pointed to Anthony Jenkins as the one who began the attack, saying he only joined in after it had started.
The Jenkins were first charged in state circuit court in Harlan County after the attack, charges that were dropped once the Federal authorities filed a complaint.
Harlan County Commonwealth Attorney Henry Johnson said the charges in state court were withdrawn as it “made more sense to let the case go federal because the potential penalties are greater.”
“I’ve been aware of the fact that there was an investigation going on, and the federal authorities have been very thorough in their investigation on this,” Johnson said.
Alexis and Mable Jenkins are not named in the new indictment and a note on the U. S. District Court webpage says the earlier charges against them have been terminated.
The Kentucky Equality Federation, a civil rights group, pushed to have the four charged under the Shepard-Bryd law.
“We wanted this in federal court where the judges are appointed, not elected, so they don’t have to keep a portion of the population happy,” said Jordan Palmer, executive director of the group.
Palmer said he was pleased to see a hate-crime charge filed in the attack on Pennington.
“We do believe that a hate crime occurred,” he said.
The federation, which advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, had asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the case.


First federal hate crime indictment handed down based on sexual orientation due to Kentucky Equality Federation president Jordan Palmer

The Georgia Voice
The U.S. Department of Justice announced today it has indicted two Harlan County, Ky., men for participating in the kidnapping and beating of a gay man.

This is the first indictment handed down under the federal Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act involving sexual orientation, according to a press release from the DOJ.

The federal grand jury indicted David Jason Jenkins, 37, and Anthony Ray Jenkins, 20, "for kidnapping and assaulting Kevin Pennington, and for conspiring with each other and other unnamed individuals to commit the kidnapping," according to the press release.

"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," states the DOJ release.

According to a statement given to the Kentucky Equality Federation, Pennington said he begged his attackers to stop.

"The whole time I screamed and begged them to stop, I was screaming I'm sorry for whatever I had done to make them want to do this to me. I can remember seeing bright flashes of light every time one of them would stomp or punch me in the head with them telling me he was going to rape me asking me if I was going to suck his [edited] how they would hold me down if they had to and how he was going to [edited] me in the [edited] dry until I bled," Pennington said.

The two men face a life sentence if convicted.

President Barack Obama signed the federal hate crimes bill in October 2009.

Read more: http://www.thegavoice.com/news/national-news/4441-first-federal-hate-crime-indictment-handed-down-in-case-of-assault-on-gay-man

Kentucky men face first-of-their-kind federal hate-crime charges

Two Eastern Kentucky men are the first in the nation to be charged under the section of the federal hate-crimes law that makes it illegal to attack people based on their sexual orientation, said U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey.

Two cousins targeted a gay Letcher County man for a vicious assault because of his sexual orientation, a federal grand jury has charged.

The grand jury indicted cousins David Jason Jenkins, 37, of Cumberland and Anthony Ray Jenkins, 20, of Partridge on charges of conspiracy, kidnapping and committing an act of violence based on the victim's sexual orientation.

They face a possible life sentence if convicted.

The two are charged in the beating of Kevin Pennington during a late-night attack in April 2011 at Kingdom Come State Park, near Cumberland.

Anthony Jenkins' wife, Alexis Leeann Jenkins, and his sister, Mable Ashley Jenkins, both 19, allegedly urged on the attack, yelling "kill that faggot," according to a court document.

Pennington, 28, said he was able to run away during a brief lull in the attack. He hid in the woods until the four stopped looking for him, then made his way to the ranger station to call for help.

Pennington said he suffered various injuries, including bruises over much of his body, a torn ligament in his shoulder, a closed-head injury and a torn ear.

In a telephone call recorded at the Harlan County jail after the four were arrested, David Jason Jenkins told his ex-wife that Anthony Jenkins didn't like Pennington because he was gay, according to an affidavit from an FBI agent.

Pennington told the Herald-Leader there also had been some friction because he had rejected advances from David Jason Jenkins and, soon before the attack, from Mable Ashley Jenkins, who goes by Ashley.

According to the indictment, David Jason Jenkins, who goes by Jason, and Anthony Jenkins came up with a plan to assault Pennington because he was gay.

They had Alexis and Ashley Jenkins lure Pennington from his home with the promise to take him somewhere to get Suboxone, a much-abused pain drug, according to the indictment.

Court documents said the two men dressed in hooded shirts or jackets they thought would conceal their identities, and they disabled the interior light in Anthony Jenkins' extended-cab Chevrolet Silverado pickup so Pennington wouldn't be able to recognize them when he got in the back seat with the women.

Pennington said he'd seen the two men attack a friend of his in 2009 and wouldn't have gotten in the truck if he had known they were inside, according to a court document.

Pennington said once he realized who the men were, on the way to the state park, he asked them to let him out of the truck, but they refused.

The two men allegedly dragged Pennington from the truck at a secluded part of the park and punched, kicked and stomped him.

Jason, Anthony, Alexis and Ashley Jenkins were charged first in Harlan County in the attack, but the FBI filed a complaint last month charging the four with taking part in kidnapping Pennington.

The new indictment, returned Wednesday evening, added more charges against Jason and Anthony Jenkins. However, Alexis and Ashley Jenkins were not charged in the indictment.

Jordan Palmer, president of the Kentucky Equality Federation, said Thursday he was pleased to see a hate-crime charge filed in the case.

"We do believe that a hate crime occurred," Palmer said.

The federation, which advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, had asked the U.S. Department of Justice to take the case.

Harvey said he has made enforcement of civil-rights laws, including the law on hate crimes, a priority since he took over as the top federal prosecutor for Central and Eastern Kentucky in May 2010.

The U.S. Attorney's Office has since conducted training for state and local police and prosecutors on federal civil-rights laws, and met with community groups to raise awareness. Harvey also has designated a unit in the office to focus on civil-rights enforcement.

Harvey said he could not comment on specifics of the case from Harlan County, but said "it certainly is the kind of case that will be a priority for us."

Lexington Herald-Leader: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/04/12/2148377/two-eastern-kentucky-men-indicted.html#storylink=cpy

Two Harlan County men indicted for federal hate crime Read more: The Harlan Daily Enterprise - Two Harlan County men indicted for federal hate crime

Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division, Kerry B. Harvey, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky and Perrye Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI jointly announced Thursday that two Harlan County men were indicted for their roles in kidnapping and assaulting a gay man because of his sexual orientation.

According to a press release, a federal grand jury in London returned a three-count indictment Wednesday charging David Jason Jenkins, 37, of Cumberland, and Anthony Ray Jenkins, 20, of Partridge, with kidnapping and assaulting Kevin Pennington in April of last year. The indictment also charges the men with conspiracy. Both men will be arraigned in London at 2 p.m. today.

According to the indictment, on April 4, 2011, the defendants enlisted the help of two women to lure Pennington into a truck with the defendants. According to the indictment, Anthony and David Jenkins transported Pennington to a secluded area of the Kingdom Come State Park and assaulted him.

Both defendants were indicted for committing a hate crime in violation of the Matthew Shepard-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 case in the nation charging a violation of the sexual orientation section of the federal hate crimes law.

The Federal hate crimes law under which these defendants were charged, criminalizes certain acts of violence motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability or gender.

This case was investigated by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Kentucky State Police. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Hydee Hawkins and trial attorney Angie Cha with the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice.

The kidnapping and assault offenses carry maximum penalties of up to life in prison.

Mable Jenkins, 19, of Partridge, and Alexis Jenkins, 19, of Partridge, were also arrested in March by federal authorities for their alleged involvement.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Thursday that information and further charges against the two women are pending at this time.

“People cannot assault people based on their sexual orientation,” stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer.

Read more: The Harlan Daily Enterprise - Two Harlan County men indicted for federal hate crime

Read more: http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=doc&p_docid=13D8F928D1BF59A8&p_docnum=1

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