Toledo man pleads guilty to hate crime for beating African-American stranger
Charles Butler, 33, of Toledo, pleaded guilty today to a federal hate crime for beating an African-American stranger he saw on the street.
The plea was announced by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division; U.S. Attorney Carole S. Rendon of the Northern District of Ohio and Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony of the FBI’s Cleveland Division.
According to his guilty plea, on May 18, 2016, Butler and Robert Paschalis drove past the victim, A.W., on the street while A.W. was unloading items from his truck. The two men circled back, got out of their own truck and began attacking A.W. while yelling racial slurs. Butler grabbed a broom from the back of A.W.’s truck and struck A.W. with it multiple times. Butler admitted during his plea to singling out and beating A.W. because he is African American.
The beating stopped only when two off-duty Ohio state police officers happened on the scene and pulled Butler and Paschalis away. A.W. suffered an orbital fracture and damage to his right eye. Butler later posted on Facebook that the attack was “in the name of the White Race.”
“Race-motivated violence violates the law and offends human decency,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gupta. “The Justice Department will always vigorously prosecute those who carry out violence against individuals because of the color of their skin – crimes which threaten the very fabric and core values of our country.”
“Northern Ohio is a mosaic of different races, ethnicities and backgrounds,” said U.S. Attorney Rendon. “This defendant tried to strike at the diversity we cherish by participating in an unprovoked attack based solely on the victim’s race. He is now likely headed to prison, while we will continue to work together to ensure that everyone’s civil rights are protected.”
“These individuals engaged in a violent assault against another person based on his race and are now being held accountable,” said Special Agent in Charge Anthony. “The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure hate crimes are thoroughly investigated and prosecuted to the greatest extent of the law.”
Paschalis has also been charged with a hate crime. His charges are still pending. An indictment is merely an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
This case is being investigated by the FBI Cleveland Division’s Toledo Resident Agency, in cooperation with the Toledo Police Department and the Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Freeman of the Northern District of Ohio and Trial Attorney Dana Mulhauser of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.