Two teenage girls accused of beating a transgender woman at a McDonald’s in Maryland have been indicted on assault and hate-crime charges for the April incident, which a restaurant employee captured on a video that went viral.
The Washington Blade reports on the charges related to the videotaped assault against Chrissy Lee Polis in a Baltimore suburb that drew widespread condemnation last month.
“The grand jury indicted Teonna Brown, 18, on first and second-degree assault and classified the offenses as hate crimes. Sources familiar with the case say a 15-year-old girl charged as a juvenile, whose identity has been withheld by authorities, faces the same charges in juvenile court,” reports the Blade.
The assault charges normally carry a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment for a convicted adult, but the addition of the hate crime charge could add up to 10 additional years to the penalty.
The assault charges normally carry a maximum penalty of 25 years in jail for an adult. Under Maryland’s hate crimes law, which covers victims based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, a judge has the authority to “enhance” the penalty for an underlying charge by adding up to 10 additional years of incarceration to the sentence.
Equality Maryland, the statewide LGBT advocacy organization, issued a statement on the indictment recommended by the prosecutor, the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s office.
"Today, the State's Attorney for Baltimore County came to the only possible conclusion in deciding to try the assault on Chrissy Lee Polis as a hate crime,” said interim executive director Lynne Bowman. “As the video shows, the violent attack was directly related to the fact that Ms. Polis is a transgender woman. Lack of understanding or fear about someone who is transgender is never an excuse for violence and when it occurs, it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
A bill that would have protected transgender Marylanders from discrimination in credit, housing, and employment, but not public accommodations such as the McDonald’s restaurant, died in the state senate last month.
An attorney for Brown is expected to argue that she acted in self-defense. The McDonald’s employee who took the video of the attack was fired, but will not be charged in connection with the assault.