Christopher Cain, 19, and Dorian Moragne, 20, both of Atlanta, pleaded guilty today in federal court to beating a man because of his sexual orientation.
According to information presented in court, Cain, Moragne and a juvenile, all associated with the Jack City street gang, targeted a 20-year-old gay man on Feb. 4, 2012, as the man left a grocery store in Atlanta’s Pittsburgh neighborhood. Cain punched the victim in the head and pushed him to the ground. Cain, Moragne and the juvenile surrounded the victim and repeatedly punched and kicked him while the group yelled anti-gay epithets, including “No f****** in Jack City.” Moragne then picked up a tire and struck the victim with it. The group also stole the victim’s cell phone. A fourth person, also with the defendants, recorded the assault using a cell phone. The video footage was posted to the internet.
“Hate-fueled violence will not be condoned,” said Roy L. Austin Jr., Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will use all the tools in our law enforcement arsenal to investigate and prosecute hate crimes.”
“Using violence against another person because of his or her sexual orientation has no place in our civilized society. The Department of Justice is committed to aggressively enforcing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to prosecute acts motivated by hate,” said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.
Cain and Moragne admitted to violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded federal jurisdiction to include certain assaults motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation. The federal hate crimes law criminalizes certain acts of violence motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender or gender identity. This case is the first in Georgia to charge a violation of the sexual orientation provision of this federal hate crimes law.
Last year, Cain, Moragne and the juvenile, who was considered an adult under Georgia law, were prosecuted in Fulton County, Ga., Superior Court for offenses that did not include a hate crime. In state court, Cain and Moragne were sentenced to a term of 10 years in prison, suspended upon the service of five years. As part of their plea agreement, federal prosecutors recommended that their federal and state sentences run concurrently.
This case is being investigated by special agents of the FBI and investigators with the Atlanta Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Nicole Lee Ndumele of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Alan Gray.