2 Kentucky men indicted for anti-gay kidnapping, assault

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Two Harlan County, Ky., men were indicted on April 12 in connection with the kidnapping and assault of a gay man.

A federal grand jury in London, Ky., returned a three-count indictment charging David Jason Jenkins, 37, and Anthony Ray Jenkins, 20, for kidnapping and assaulting Kevin Pennington, and for conspiring with each other and with other unnamed individuals to commit the kidnapping.

The indictment charges the men with committing a hate crime in violation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded federal jurisdiction to include certain assaults motivated by someone’s sexual orientation.

The case marks the first federal hate crime charging a violation of the sexual orientation provision of the statute.

The indictment alleges that on April 4, 2011, the two defendants kidnapped and assaulted Kevin Pennington because of Pennington’s sexual orientation.

According to the indictment, the defendants enlisted two women to trick Pennington into getting into a truck with the defendants. The defendants allegedly drove Pennington to a secluded area of the Kingdom Come State Park in Kentucky and assaulted him.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of life in prison for each charge.

The Shepard-Byrd law, enacted in 2009, criminalizes acts of physical violence causing bodily injury motivated by any person’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability. 

FBI agents Anthony Sankey and Mike Brown investigated the case, which is being prosecuted by assistant U.S. Attorney Hydee Hawkins and trial attorney Angie Cha with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

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