Karine Jean-Pierre
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Two Utah Teens Charged With Hate Crimes Over Assault on Gay Couple

Jacob Metcalf and Christian Peacock

A 17-year-old Utah boy is facing charges in a case where a gay teenager was punched and subjected to slurs last month, and a friend of that suspect is being charged with vandalizing the victim's house. Hate-crime enhancements have been added to the charges against both.

The first teen was taken into custody Friday and charged in juvenile court with assault, which is a third-degree felony, and initiating a riot, a second-degree felony, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. His name is not being released because of his age. Among the charges against the boy's friend, Hayden Perry Stowell, 19, are retaliation against a witness, a third-degree felony, and criminal mischief, a class A misdemeanor.

Christian Peacock and Jacob Metcalf were hugging outside of Peacock's home in the town of Sandy on July 30 when occupants of a passing car yelled homophobic slurs at them.

Later, the occupants got out, and the 17-year-old attacked Peacock, hitting him in the head, according to police. Peacock was taken to a hospital for treatment of a concussion and swelling of the brain.

Metcalf said the two of them were was outmatched. "There were five people there against just me and my boyfriend," he told the Tribune.

During the police investigation, the 17-year-old suspect admitted to targeting Peacock and Metcalf because they were a same-sex couple, according to the charging documents. He didn't like their public display of affection, he told police. 

A community group has put up Pride flags outside Peacock's home to show support. Stowell was caught on a surveillance camera near the home Saturday. He broke at least one flagpole while pulling out the flags, which were left scattered around the area, police told the Tribune. In charging documents, police said his "only clear purpose" was to "further intimidate and harass" the victim's family.

The 17-year-old is being held in juvenile detention, and Stowell is being held without bail in Salt Lake County jail. Prosecutors said Stowell would pose a danger to the victim and his family if he were released.

The Peacock family released a statement through their attorneys Tuesday. They thanked neighbors and authorities for the support and added, "There can be no place in Utah for hate crimes."

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