Approximately 6 months ago, two men connected through a program called MeetMe.com. The one man, known as A.K., had expressed on his page that he was gay. The other man, Brice Johnson, indicated that he was not gay. The two individuals “connected” through this program and began to communicate. This communication quickly led to a personal meeting and a misunderstanding that turned dangerous and left one man in the hospital for ten days with multiple skull and facial fractures.
Brice Johnson, 19, has been charged with a federal hate crime after he invited a gay man to his home through an online service and beat him severely. A hate crime, also known as a bias-motivated crime, is different from other violent crimes – the main difference is not based on how it is committed, but why. When an individual is charged with a “hate crime,” they are not charged with a different crime; instead, they are given enhanced penalties for a criminal offense that already exists.
Johnson now faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The criminal complaint outlined details of the incident that led to the charge:
As the two individuals chatted via MeetMe.com, Johnson told A.K. that he was interested in engaging in sexual activity. He quickly gave A.K. his address and told him to come over. Once A.K. arrived at Johnson’s home, the two stood outside talking until A.K. grabbed Johnson’s crotch. When A.K. asked Johnson if he was gay, he responded aggressively and hit A.K. “about five times.” Johnson, believing that A.K. was dead, shoved his body in the back of his car and drove over to a family friend’s home.
Luckily for A.K., he was not dead. Instead, he continued to yell for help from the trunk as he went in and out of consciousness. Johnson refused to take A.K. to the hospital until he received multiple threats from his own family that they would call the police if he didn’t. A.K. was hospitalized for 10 days at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth.
Conversations with Johnson after the incident have revealed that this was a “joke gone too far.” He told family members that he had originally invited A.K. over because he was gay. At first, Johnson was arrested and charged with aggravated assault. However, upon finding out new information, federal authorities took custody of him last week and charged him with a hate crime. Johnson is being charged with willfully causing bodily injury to a person because of the actual or perceived sexual orientation of that person.
Source: Star-Telegram, Springtown man faces federal hate crime charge in beating of gay man, Domingo Ramirez,