A transgender student at the State University of New York at Geneseo was assaulted early Friday morning as she walked home with friends. According to reports, 20-year-old Roric Brown confronted the victim as she walked past, yelling homophobic slurs, throwing a drink at her, and then punching her in the stomach and throat.
The district attorney's office is now attempting to determine whether or not to pursue hate crime charges against the 20-year-old, who is currently being charged with second-degree aggravated harassment, a class-A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.
"We're still investigating, I will be speaking with the victim and we'll deal with it accordingly," Livingston County District Attorney Greg McCaffrey told Rochester news station WHAM-TV. Livingston added that he is unlikely to pursue hate crime charges, due to the minor nature of the victim's injuries.
Last year, Brown was charged with arson, resulting in his explusion from SUNY Geneseo. Though the case was adjourned without a ruling, Brown was instructed to remain out of trouble while the court determines whether or not to dismiss the charges.
The unnamed victim alleges that Brown appeared to be extremely intoxicated during the incident. Brown corroborates this, telling The Genessee Sun, "This was just drunken stupidness and a bar argument. I have absolutely nothing against homosexual or transgender people in any way."
While Brown claims that the event occurred inside the bar, witnesses state that this happened outside.
In a statement to WHAM, SUNY Geneseo's director of media relations stated, "SUNY Geneseo does not tolerate behavior that does harm to any of our students. We continually work with the campus community to build a safe environment free of discrimination, allowing full access and opportunity to all members of our community."
The president of SUNY Geneseo's Pride Alliance expressed a belief that this was, in fact a hate crime, telling WHAM, "It was based on gender, and what they were wearing, gender expression and gender were used, the f-word as well."
Brown currently has a court date set for October.