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Press Release

Kentucky Man Pleads Guilty and Is Sentenced for Federal Hate Crime Targeting Children Online

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana

WASHINGTON – A Kentucky man pleaded guilty and was sentenced last week to one year and one day in prison and one year of supervised release in the District of Eastern Louisiana for committing a federal hate crime.

According to court documents, Brian Adams, 24, of Paintsville, Kentucky, transmitted a threat to a fifth-grade class at the Laureate Academy Charter School on or about Oct. 14, 2020. At the time, the school was conducting class virtually over Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, Adams used racial epithets against the students and teachers and threatened to “hang them by a tree.” Adams pleaded guilty to one count of transmitting threatening communications. The court found that Adams’ actions were motivated by hate.

“This prosecution should make clear that perpetrators of hate crimes hiding behind computer screens, hacking into teleconferences and disrupting virtual meetings will be held accountable. The defendant used racial epithets and threats against innocent children who were simply trying to get an education,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “No child should ever have to endure racially motivated hatred like this in a classroom, a school or anywhere else. The Justice Department is committed to protecting children from such hate-filled assaults and to safeguarding their right to a safe and secure education.”

“Citizens should not fear threats based on their race at any time and especially for students while pursuing their education,” said U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans for the Eastern District of Louisiana. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to working closely with federal, state and local law enforcement to ensure hate crimes are investigated, prosecuted and to ultimately hold perpetrators responsible for their actions.”

“Hate has no place in our country, especially in a fifth-grade classroom,” said Special Agent in Charge Lyonel Myrthil of the FBI New Orleans Field Office. “Protecting the rights of all Americans under the Constitution is the heart of the FBI's mission.”

The FBI New Orleans Field Office investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracey N. Knight for the Eastern District of Louisiana prosecuted the case, with assistance from Trial Attorney Mary Hahn of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.


Shane M. Jones

Public Information Officer

United States Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Louisiana

United States Department of Justice

Updated June 25, 2024

Civil Rights