Two men have pleaded guilty to federal hate-crimes charges arising from the beating of a gay Atlanta man in 2012, an attack that was the subject of a widely circulated Internet video.
Christopher Cain and Dorian Moragne, both of Atlanta, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to beating Brandon White because he is gay, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice. They and another man attacked White as he was leaving a grocery store in February of last year, using antigay epithets as they did so, while a fourth man recorded video of the assault on a cell phone.
Cain, Moragne, and Dareal Demare Williams all pleaded guilty last July to state charges resulting from the attack and were each sentenced to five years in prison, followed by five years’ probation. Williams, a juvenile, was tried as an adult in Georgia but does not face federal charges, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Javaris Bradford, the man accused of making the video recording, remains at large.
The state charges did not include hate-crime provisions; Georgia law does not cover crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This is the first case to be prosecuted in Georgia under the sexual orientation portion of the federal hate-crimes law.
“Violence against another person because of his or her sexual orientation has no place in our civilized society,” Sally Quillian Yates, U.S. attorney for the northern district of Georgia, said in an emailed statement to the Journal-Constitution. “The citizens of this district should know that we are committed to aggressively prosecuting hate crime.”
While the federal charges could conceivably result in additional prison time for Cain and Moragne, the U.S. attorney’s office recommended, as part of a plea deal, that their federal and state sentences be served concurrently.