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Man Indicted for Allegedly Trying to Hit 2 Gay People With a Car

Matthew Lehigh

Because Idaho doesn't have a hate crimes law that covers sexual orientation, the U.S. government sought to indict the defendant on a federal hate crime charge.

As a result of an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Boise on January 10, an Idaho man has been charged with a hate crime.

A 31-year-old man named Matthew Alan Lehigh is accused of driving his car at two people in Boise on October 12 last year in an attempt to cause bodily harm to the two people because of their sexual orientation.

Boise Police apprehended Lehigh, and state charges were filed against him by the Ada County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, according to a justice department statement announcing the indictment.

Lehigh was arrested in October and charged with three counts of aggravated assault and one count of malicious injury to property. He also faced an additional felony arson charge after he allegedly admitted to police he had committed multiple crimes against the LGBTQ+ community in Boise, including burning Pride flags and vandalism to The Community Center, an LGBTQ+ safe space.

He faced a felony arson charge for allegedly burning a Pride flag of a gay married couple in Boise's North End. He allegedly burned the flag on October 4 at the home of John Michael Schert and Brett Perry.

The federal hate crimes charge comes as Idaho laws wouldn't permit such a charge in this case. Despite the animosity and hate directed at the LGBTQ+ community, no hate crime charges were filed against Lehigh because the state's malicious harassment law only considers "race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin" as being protected by the statute.

A conviction for the charges against Lehigh under federal law carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison.

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

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