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Colorado Teens Face Charges for Attack on Gay Classmate

Six students are facing charges in the sickening attacks on 15-year-old Anthony Hergesheimer in Pueblo, Colorado.

Hergesheimer_2To recap: Hergesheimer, who is openly gay, began receiving taunts at school earlier this month from the students, who threw a wet tampon at him on school property and then followed him as he made his way home, passing him four times on the street while yelling homophobic slurs. One of them eventually got out of the car and threw an aerosol can at Hergesheimer's head, fracturing his cheekbone, breaking his nose, and leaving him with a black eye.

District Attorney Bill Thiebaut announced today that two of the juveniles responsible — Kyle Salazar, 16, and Bobby Ray Kanmore, 17 — would be charged as adults with felony crimes, and four others would face juvenile charges that remain unspecified.

Said Thiebaut, who has a history of prosecuting hate crimes: "In this case, I charged two defendants as adults because they were 14 years of age or older and are alleged to have committed a crime of violence. It's a very significant, disturbing case. I wanted to send the message to this community that this type of behavior won't be tolerated.

The attackers' status at the school is still under review. They are suspended, and may be expelled.

Background
Colorado Teen Assaulted by Fellow Students for Being Gay [tr]

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Comments

  1. Wow. That's great that the attackers are charged with felonies.

    Posted by: Marc | Apr 18, 2007 2:20:55 PM


  2. I agree, but WTF is with hate crime laws? A crime is a crime. Full stop. Gay people shouldn't have extra-special protection. Whether someone beats you up because you are gay, or looked at his girlfriend the wrong way, or stole a cab from him, all are the same crime. I don't want special status because I'm gay... I want to be equal.

    Posted by: Thomas | Apr 18, 2007 2:28:23 PM


  3. Thomas, I think you have a complete misconception about what a "hate crime" is and the purpose of hate crime legislation which, by the way, has been on the federal books protecting minorities, but not gays, since 1969.

    Posted by: Zeke | Apr 18, 2007 2:34:35 PM


  4. make that, "...protecting VARIOUS minorities..."

    Posted by: Zeke | Apr 18, 2007 2:36:10 PM


  5. Hate crimes punish more harshly crimes that, by their nature, are intended to intimidate an entire group of people in society, not just the victim(s). While all crimes are detrimental to society, it can be argued that hate crimes impact more people in a more significant way than other crimes. That's why I think hate crime legislation is justified.

    Posted by: Yatlick | Apr 18, 2007 2:37:01 PM


  6. Thomas says he wants to be "equal." That's what gay-bashers want, too. Because using that logic, when they target and beat up a gay kid in broad daylight, since all crimes are "equal," they can count on getting the most lenient possible punishment for their attack.

    Posted by: Frank L | Apr 18, 2007 2:50:32 PM


  7. Nice to see a DA actually do their job! Great to see that justice may actually be served in this instance. Thanks for update Andy.

    Posted by: ShawnSF | Apr 18, 2007 2:52:38 PM


  8. Thomas, hate crime laws do operate equally. If this were a gang of gays taunting and assaulting a heterosexual for being a "breeder" the hate crime law would also apply. Even the late arch-conservative homophobic Chief Justice William Rehnquist upheld the constitutionality of hate crime laws. From his 1993 majority opinion sustaining Wisconsin's hate crime law (which was being applied in a case of anti-white violence by a black defendant):

    "[T]he Wisconsin statute singles out for enhancement bias-inspired conduct because this conduct is thought to inflict greater individual and societal harm. For example, according to the State and its amici, bias-motivated crimes are more likely to provoke retaliatory crimes, inflict distinct emotional harms on their victims, and incite community unrest. The State's desire to redress these perceived harms provides an adequate explanation for its penalty-enhancement provision over and above mere disagreement with offenders' beliefs or biases. As Blackstone said long ago, 'it is but reasonable that, among crimes of different natures, those should be most severely punished which are the most destructive of the public safety and happiness.'"

    I also think it is illustrative to compare two example cases of vandalism. In the first, a group of teenagers throw an open can of paint on the door of a home as a prank without any consideration of who lives at the home and for no particular reason other than to "have some fun". This act is just a simple act of vandalism. Now consider if the teens, instead of throwing the paint, used a paint brush to paint a swastika on the door because the family that lives there is Jewish. The second act is a far more heinous act. Its the same act of vandalism. The same paint, perhaps even less paint, but the message is far more clear. The second act puts fear not just into that particular family, but the entire Jewish community of the area. Without hate crime laws, the two acts are the same when in reality, they are quite different and as Rehnquist said quoting Blackstone, "it is but reasonable that, among crimes of different natures, those should be most severely punished which are the most destructive of the public safety and happiness."

    Posted by: Craig | Apr 18, 2007 3:17:46 PM


  9. If two white teens burned down white Baptist churches, then in states with hate crime laws, they could be prosecuted for a hate crime, since they specifcally chose religious targets.

    The idea that hate crime laws give special status to minority groups is a myth, but continues to be a talking point.

    Posted by: mark m | Apr 18, 2007 4:01:29 PM


  10. There is also a misperception, perpetuated by anti-gay groups and bought, hook, line and sinker, by far too many people (including gays) that ANY assault on a gay person would be considered a hate crime. That is simply not the case. A crime has to meet a list of criteria to be designated a hate crime. The list of examples that Thomas gave above are a good example of the misunderstanding and misinformation surrounding these laws. Getting beat up because you looked at someone's girlfriend or stole someone's cab would not, in and of itself, be considered a hate crime, regardless of the sexual orientation, race, religion, etc. of the victim. Those are examples of aggravated assaults.

    When a person is attacked for no other reason than their sexual orientation, religion, race, etc. that crime is directed at the entire community that the victim represents. For example, when Southerners lynched African-American men, it was seldom, if ever, intended to “teach him a lesson” it was a crime intended to strike fear into all African-Americans and teach all African-Americans a “lesson” to “stay in their place” and was therefore a crime against ALL African-Americans.

    Such crimes are an even greater threat to a community, a country and a society, than your basic aggravated assaults. That is why they receive additional attention and why they bring greater punishment.

    Besides, and I will repeat this over and over, gays are simply being added to a list of protected classes that has existed in some form since 1969. If the religious groups and anti hate crimes proponents were so disturbed about these, “special rights” and “special protections” why are they just now complaining, after almost 40 years, and why are they not asking for the abolishing of protections for religious people?

    I think we all know why. It’s not the protections they object to, it’s the protections for gay people that they have a problem with, even though homophobic hate crimes are second only to racially based hate crimes in America. And those are just the one’s that are reported.

    Posted by: Zeke | Apr 18, 2007 4:06:33 PM


  11. Sorry for repeating other people's points. I stepped away from the computer for a while, in the middle of typing my comment. By the time I hit "post" other people had beat me to the point.

    Posted by: Zeke | Apr 18, 2007 4:10:21 PM


  12. That's fantastic news! Please keep us updated on any further developments with this story.

    Posted by: Jordan | Apr 18, 2007 4:42:59 PM


  13. Great news, but I'm still baffled that the school hasn't expelled them yet.

    And I'm 100% in agreement with what you have all said in response to Thomas' comment. It is a shame that the idea of what a hate crime is has been twisted so much.

    Posted by: gabriel | Apr 18, 2007 4:44:10 PM


  14. Oy Vey... another person misreading what hate crime laws actually do (as usual). This DA should be applauded for going after this senseless crime with every tool at his disposal, rather than criticized with cheap right-wing "thought crime" rethoric. These thugs are not being charged with a thought crime.

    The statutes do not charge you with the "crime" of "hating", in addition to the crime you're accused of committing. That's a speech issue.

    It merely differentiates the DEGREE to which you should be punished based on the particular circumstances, motivations, and behaviors surrounding the crime, It expresses the judgment that some actions, though leading to the same result, are more irrational and unforgivable than others. But gee, isn't that unconstitutional? Um...no...we already do it on a regular basis in all 50 states!

    If applied fairly and correctly, hate crime laws are absolutely no different from deciding whether a homicide charge should be manslaughter versus murder (mitigating circumstances such as a passion/heat killing, accidental killing, degree of recklessness, self-defense, etc.) or murder one versus murder two (premeditation, malice, capability to understand the consequences, etc.).

    Posted by: John | Apr 18, 2007 8:47:23 PM


  15. Bobby Ray? Yeah...say no more.

    The kid's gorgeous btw. I hope things work out for him. It's a sad fact of life that kids get together and will bully the shit out of an envelope if it's any bit different from the rest of the envelopes.

    I'm glad something has been done about this and quickly. Abuse of any kind is just not acceptable in a supposedly civilized society.

    Posted by: EM | Apr 20, 2007 4:38:20 PM


  16. 1972 Do you renenber her

    Posted by: Deborah Fedrick | Sep 28, 2010 4:50:22 AM


  17. let me just say that this case was totally misunderstood. I am friends with the two boys getting charged and think it is ridiculous that they are getting charged with a hate crime. Just because this kid is gay does not mean thats why he was beat up. The whole thing was about this kid anthony getting one of the accused friends expelled from school. This was just an immature way of kids retaliating for someone getting their friend in trouble

    Posted by: Devom | Oct 22, 2010 3:16:35 PM


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