WASHINGTON – Two Harlan County, Ky., men were indicted today for their roles in kidnapping and assaulting a gay man because of his sexual orientation, the Justice Department announced today.
A federal grand jury in London, Ky., returned a three-count indictment charging David Jason Jenkins, 37, and Anthony Ray Jenkins, 20, for kidnapping and assaulting Kevin Pennington, and for conspiring with each other and with other unnamed individuals to commit the kidnapping. The indictment charges the men with committing a hate crime in violation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded federal jurisdiction to include certain assaults motivated by someone’s sexual orientation. This case marks the first federal hate crime charging a violation of the sexual orientation provision of the statute.
The indictment alleges that on April 4, 2011, the two defendants kidnapped and assaulted Kevin Pennington because of Pennington’s sexual orientation. According to the indictment, the defendants enlisted two women to trick Pennington into getting into a truck with the defendants, so that the defendants could drive Pennington to a state park and assault him. According to the indictment, the defendants then drove Pennington a secluded area of the Kingdom Come State Park in Kentucky and assaulted him.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of up to life in prison for each charge.
The Shepard-Byrd law, enacted in 2009, criminalizes acts of physical violence causing bodily injury motivated by any person’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hydee Hawkins with the U.S. Attorney Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky and Trial Attorney Angie Cha with the Civil Rights Division.
An indictment is only an accusation, and the defendants are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.