by The Associated Press and Brenna Angel, Kentucky Public Radio
Two eastern Kentucky men have been charged with a federal hate crime in an attack against a gay man last year, marking the first time the law has been applied in a case involving a victim’s sexual orientation.
According to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court, 37-year-old David Jason Jenkins and 20-year-old Anthony Ray Jenkins beat up Kevin Pennington in April of last year because he is gay.
Kerry Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, says this case marks the first time in the nation that the federal hate crime law was cited alleging bias against a gay victim. The law was expanded in 2009 to cover crimes motivated by a person’s sexual orientation.
“The penalty potentially is any term of years up to life in prison,” Harvey says. “So these are very serious charges that carry very serious penalties.”
The two men were arraigned this afternoon and pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping and assault.