By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com February 26 2012 1:20 PM ET
Three lesbians in Boston have been charged with a brutal hate crime, but according to the Boston Herald, their attorney might argue their sexual orientation prevents them from being charged as such. Erika Stroud, her sister Felicia Stroud, and her partner Lydia Sanford allegedly viciously attacked a gay man Sunday at the Forest Hills MTBA subway station, kicking and punching him after he bumped into the women in a stairwell. The victim, who has not been named in news reports yet, told police the women “called him insulting homophobic slurs." He was treated for injuries that included a broken nose.
According to the Herald's Richard Weir, Sanford's attorney, Helene Tomlinson, argues that since her client is "openly identified" as a lesbian, there was no homophobic conduct warranted. Instead, she says, the alleged victim "provoked" the women by using racial slurs.
Some legal experts that Weir spoke with say that the fact that all parties are gay means a hate crime prosecution won't work. “My guess is that no sane jury would convict them under those circumstances, but what this really demonstrates is the idiocy of the hate-crime legislation,” lawyer Harvey Silverglate told the Herald. “If you beat someone up, you’re guilty of assault and battery of a human being. Period. The idea of trying to break down human beings into categories is doomed to failure.”
Another attorney, Chester Darling, went so far as to argue that, "No one should go to court. It’s knuckle justice. It’s a fair exchange.”
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley's spokesman Jake Wark disagreed, saying the women's sexual orientation isn't a factor: “The defendants’ particular orientation or alleged orientations have no bearing on our ability to prosecute for allegedly targeting a person who they believe to be different from them."