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Court Finds Defendant Acted Because of Victim’s Sexual Orientation
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, and the FBI’s Dallas Division Office announced that Brice Johnson, 19, of Springtown, Texas, was sentenced today in federal court to 183 months imprisonment for kidnapping a young gay man after luring the victim to his home and brutally assaulting him because of his sexual orientation.
Johnson admitted in plea documents that, in the early morning hours of September 2, 2013, he connected with the adult male victim, identified as A.K., through the cell phone application for www.MeetMe.com. A.K.’s www.MeetMe.com page indicated he was a gay man, while Johnson’s web page indicated he was not gay. During their online communications, Johnson said that he was interested in engaging in sexual activity with A.K. Johnson invited A.K. to his home, gave A.K. his cell phone number and address, and exchanged text messages planning their sexual encounter. Just a few minutes after A.K. arrived at the house, Johnson severely beat him and bound A.K.’s wrists with an electrical cord.
After the beating, Johnson locked the victim in the trunk of his own car and drove the car to a family friend’s house. Individuals at the home repeatedly warned Johnson that he had to take A.K. to the hospital or they would call the police. Johnson eventually transported A.K. to an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) station in Springtown. A.K. was found to have suffered multiple skull and facial fractures from the beating, which required the victim to be hospitalized for ten days. Johnson admitted that he saved A.K.’s cell phone number using a gay slur as the contact name.
During the plea hearing, Johnson admitted that he held and confined the victim against his will in order to conceal the violent assault and to remove A.K’s severely injured body from the home where Johnson was a long-term houseguest. At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor found that the kidnapping was perpetrated by the defendant because of the victim’s sexual orientation.
“Using violence against another person because of his sexual orientation will not be condoned,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division. “The department will continue to work with our state, local, and federal law enforcement partners to vigorously prosecute hate crimes.”
“Quite simply, hate crimes of any nature will not be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas. “Prosecutions under this law are important to ensure all people in our community know they have the full protection of the law. I commend not only the victim for his continued cooperation throughout this investigation, but our law enforcement partners including the FBI, the Springtown Police Department and the Parker County Sheriff’s Office, who worked tirelessly in this case to ensure our hate crime laws are strictly enforced.”
“The FBI is committed to thoroughly investigating violent crimes of this nature, and will continue to work with our local and state law enforcement partners to ensure justice for victims of these crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Diego Rodriguez of the FBI’s Dallas Division Office.
The investigation is being conducted by the FBI, the Springtown Police Department, and the Parker County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cara Foos Pierce and Trial Attorney Saeed Mody of the Civil Rights Division.