Four teens from
suburban Chicago face felony hate-crimes charges, as they
are accused of shouting slurs at a gay University of
Wisconsin-Madison student and vandalizing his
property, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.
According to police, the teens had been drinking
on the night of December 21 when they gathered outside
the dorm room of a gay student who serves as a liaison
for the university's housing system. They began shouting
antigay slurs and expletives. Then someone tore down photos
of gay couples and posters promoting the LGBT campus
center, the newspaper reported. Another person wrote
an antigay statement on a bulletin board outside the room.
No one was hurt, but the "nature of the attack
and the fact that it was directed at a student based
on his sexual orientation prompted Dane County, Wis.,
prosecutors to elevate misdemeanor disorderly conduct and
criminal damage to property charges to felony hate crimes,"
according to the Tribune.
"The fact that they went back to the room three
times [that night], that says a lot," UW-Madison
police detective Carol Ann Glassmaker told the
newspaper. "They were truly victimizing this person."
The teens were identified as: Caleb M. Moore,
18; Michael D. Riha, 19; Kevin R. Sochacki, 18; and
Benjamin T. Chamberlain, 19. All four are free on bail
and are scheduled to appear in court February 13.
The men's lawyers deny that their clients are
antigay, the Tribune reported. "This is a blatant
case of hitting a mosquito with a concrete brick. This
is as overcharged a case as I've ever seen,"
said Stephen Meyer, who represents Moore.
Glassmaker, however, said the gay student was
traumatized by the attack. "He was very nervous and
very scared," she said. (Advocate.com)