Five charged in South Carolina bashing of gay teen

South Carolina authorities have charged five men in the brutal beating of a gay teen earlier this month in Rock Hill, reports the Charlotte Observer.

The York County sheriff’s office said the five have been charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, which carries a prison term of up to 20 years. They could face additional hate crime charges as well, depending on the outcome of an FBI investigation.

Nineteen-year-old Joshua Esskew, a student at Winthrop University, was beaten by a group of at least eight men at a convenience store in an April 9 attack that was filmed by a surveillance camera. When the footage was posted online, the attack gained national attention.

Esskew said he was walking to the store when someone yelled an anti0gay slur at him. He was then hit in the head with a 40-ounce malt liquor bottle and beaten and kicked for nearly 15 seconds.

Sheriff Bruce Bryant said the video helped break the case, producing a number of tips from the public. In face, members of the public provided the names of all five suspects who have been arrested.

Bryant said the FBI is turning over its findings to the U.S. Justice Department.

In the wake of the attack, an official of Winthrop University warned gay students to “act straight” when they’re off campus.

All five suspects are from York, S.C.: Cortezio Laquise Douglas, 21; Lortarius Anthony Duncan, 22 (pictured); LaJames Mitchell, 22; Darenco Markie Wilmore, 21; and Bobby Wilson, 20.