Three face hate crime charges in Chicago

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Three men face felony hate crime and aggravated battery charges in connection with an assault on a Chicago El train.

Initially the Evanston men – Kevin McAndrew, Benjamin Eder and Sean Little – faced misdemeanor charges for simple battery in connection with the Jan. 10 incident.

Chicagoan Daniel Hauff suffered a bloody nose, cuts and bruises when he allegedly tried to stop Little from taunting another CTA passenger on a northbound Red Line El train.

Hauff has said Little pushed a passenger and called him “faggot” and that when he intervened, Little, Eder and McAndrew attacked him.

A police report indicated that the attack began on the train, but continued on a platform at a North Side Chicago stop. The attack ended when Hauff falsely claimed to be HIV-positive.

Hauff, in late February, told the Chicago Tribune that he applauded the more serious charges sought by Cook County assistant State’s Attorney Erin Antonietti in the case.

LGBT civil rights advocates also applauded the state’s attorney’s office.

“If not for the tenacity of the assistant state’s attorney, these thugs would have just gotten a slap on the wrist,” said Rick Garcia, public policy director of Equality Illinois, a statewide LGBT group.

Equality Illinois also called for action at Chicago’s Loyola University, where one of the defendants attends school.

“I trust that your office will punish Mr. Little according to his crime, nothing short of expulsion,” EI board president Jeremy Gottschalk recently wrote Loyola president Michael J. Garanzini.

Attorneys for the defendants maintain that the El train confrontation had nothing to do with Hauff’s sexual orientation.

The defendants were released on personal recognize bond and are scheduled to return to Cook County Circuit Court  March 17.

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