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Texas man violently attacked for being gay, hate crime charge dropped

Arron Keahey
Arron Keahey
Photo courtesy of Arron Keahey, used with permission

Brice Johnson, 19, of Springtown, Texas, pleaded guilty last Friday in federal court to kidnapping a young gay man, Arron Keahey, and brutally assaulting him. Even though Johnson attacked the victim for being gay, prosecutors have agreed to drop the hate crime count in exchange for a guilty plea.

According to the FBI, Johnson admitted in plea documents that he connected with Keahey through the cell phone application for MeetMe.com in September of last year. While chatting, Johnson said that he was interested in engaging in sexual activity with Keahey, and invited the man over to his house. Johnson gave his cell phone number to Keahey and the two exchanged text messages planning their sexual encounter. Keahey’s phone number was saved in Johnson’s phone with a gay slur as a contact name.

Shortly after Keahey arrived at the house, Johnson brutally beat him and tied Keahey’s wrists with an electrical cord. Johnson then locked the victim into the trunk of his own car and drove the car to a family friend’s house. Individuals at the home threatened to turn Johnson in to the police if he did not take Keahey to the hospital. Johnson eventually transported Keahey to an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) station. Keahey suffered multiple skull and facial fractures from the beating, causing him to be hospitalized for 10 days at Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth.

Even though Johnson lured the victim over to his house, saved the victim’s phone number with a gay slur as the contact name, and brutally beat the victim, the hate crime charge was still dropped. Johnson faces a maximum statutory penalty of up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“This was a senseless act of brutal violence that has no place in a civilized society,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Jocelyn Samuels. “We are hopeful that today’s guilty plea brings some sense of justice for the victim and makes clear that the Department of Justice is committed to using every tool available to vindicate the rights of victims of violent crimes. The department will continue to work with our state, local, and federal law enforcement partners to vigorously investigate hate crimes allegations throughout the country.”

Keahey set up a GoFundMe account to help cover his medical bills. According to the fundraising page, Keahey was required to have facial reconstructive surgery and has suffered brain trauma. You can help and support Keahey by donating on his page here.

Do you think the hate crime charge should have been dropped? Let us know in the comments section below.

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