Two Kentucky women are pleading guilty to federal hate crimes charges for their role in kidnapping and assaulting a gay man last year in a state park.
Mable Ashley Jenkins and Alexis LeeAnn Jenkins, both 19, pleaded guilty today in federal court.
This Kentucky case is the first time anyone has been charged under the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Named after the victims of hate crimes, the law was expanded in 2009 to cover crimes motivated by a bias against gays, lesbians and transgender people.
Chris Hartman is the director of the Louisville Fairness Campaign.
“It’s sad that Kentucky has to be the first state in which we have folks indicted under that hate crimes act, but it’s great to see that the law is working the way it’s supposed to be,” he said.
Two men were also indicted earlier in the same case, and have pleaded not guilty. All four face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
With additional reporting from The Associated Press.