Tag Archives: plea deal

2 men reach plea deal in beating of gay couple, banned from Philadelphia’s downtown

Two men accused of beating a gay couple in a case helped solved by social media sleuths will avoid prison time under a plea agreement announced late last week that outraged members of the gay community.

Instead, prosecutors said, Philip Williams and Kevin Harrigan must stay away from downtown Philadelphia for several years, pay just under $1,000 in restitution and perform 200 hours of service at a facility serving the LGBT community.

In a tweet, gay writer and activist Dan Savage called the sentence “appalling.”

Williams, 24, and Harrigan, 26, apologized to the victims and the judge as they pleaded guilty to assault and conspiracy charges in the attack last year that left one victim with a broken jaw and cheekbones. They said the beating wasn’t motivated by the couple’s sexual orientation.

Prosecutors said the victims, Zachary Hesse and Andy Haught, had encouraged a resolution that avoided excessive punishment while sending a positive message about tolerance and understanding. Pennsylvania’s hate crime law does not cover sexual orientation.

“Today’s agreement is certainly about justice, but it is also about honoring the wishes of the victims to make sure they can continue to heal and gain closure,” District Attorney Seth Williams said in a statement.

A third defendant, Kathryn Knott, will go to trial.

Prosecutors say Williams and Harrigan, from the suburban communities of Warminster and Warrington, were part of a group that hurled gay slurs and profanity and beat Hesse and Haught near Philadelphia’s ritzy Rittenhouse Square on Sept. 11, 2014.

The case gained attention when police posted a video of the suspects, and online followers used social media sites to help identify them.

“This affected the sense of security for all people in Center City, particularly people who are gay and lesbian,” Assistant District Attorney Michael Barry said. The defendants, he said, damaged Philadelphia’s reputation as a safe, gay friendly city.

The plea deal further tarnished that reputation in the eyes of dozens of Twitter users who sent the district attorney’s office messages of outrage.

One of them, Sam Ritchie of the Innocence Project, wrote: “They didn’t even admit what they did And still they got a slap on the wrist. Shame on you (at)DASethWilliams! (hash)LGBT”.

Banning defendants from a certain part of the city isn’t common, Barry said.

It’s usually employed when defendants don’t have a connection to the area where the crime occurred, he said, like when a dealer sells drugs in a neighborhood far from where he lives.

Williams must stay away from downtown for the five years of his probation. Harrigan cannot return until his three years of probation are completed. Neither objected to the ban, which was also a condition of their bail, Barry said.

They could be granted temporary exemptions to attend necessary appointments, Barry said.

Williams and Harrigan’s whereabouts won’t be subject to electronic monitoring, but many downtown police officers are familiar with the case and know to be on the lookout, Barry said.

“It’s not the easiest thing to enforce,” he said.

Lesbian teen accused of underage sex back in Florida jail after plea deal withdrawn

A lesbian teenager accused of having sex with her underage girlfriend was taken back into custody in Florida after the prosecutor withdrew a negotiated plea deal.

Kaitlyn Hunt, who is now 19, was booked into the Indian River County Jail on Aug. 19. She was still in jail early Aug. 20 but expected to post bail.

Hunt is charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a child.

The regional state attorney’s office withdrew a plea offer on Aug. 19 alleging that Hunt violated pretrial conditions by contacting the girl.

The Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers reported that the bond company that posted her initial bail brought Hunt to the jail.

Hunt, according to authorities, engaged in sexual relations with her 14-year-old girlfriend last year. Florida law says that an individual under 16 years old cannot legally consent to having sex. So, such a relationship is a felony.

Hunt’s family – and a growing legion of Internet supporters – says that the teenager was arrested because the girlfriend’s family objected to a same-sex relationship.

Hunt’s supporters also maintain that she likely would not be facing criminal prosecution if she were a boy.

3 get plea deals in anti-gay crime in NYC

Three reputed members of a New York City street gang accused of brutal anti-gay attacks on a teenage recruit and two others pleaded guilty to lesser charges this week after prosecutors said the victims wanted to avoid testifying at a trial.

The three members of the Latin King Goonies were initially charged with crimes including aggravated sexual abuse and assault as a hate crime, gang assault and burglary, prosecutors said. Their pleas June 20 ranged from burglary to attempted assault.

“The pleas were offered after lengthy consultation with the victims who wished to avoid having to testify, which might have had the effect of victimizing them again,” the District Attorney’s Office in the Bronx said in a statement. “Assistant District Attorney Theresa Gottleib told the court the people believed the pleas serve the interest of justice from society’s perspective as well as that of the victims.”

Prosecutors said that in October 2010, members of the gang went berserk after hearing a rumor that one of their new recruits, a 17-year-old from the Bronx, was gay. The teen was stripped, beaten and sexually assaulted with a plunger handle until he confessed to having had sex with a 30-year-old man who lives a few blocks away, prosecutors and police said at the time.

Then, the group grabbed a second teen they suspected was gay and tortured him, too, authorities said. Finally, they invited the 30-year-old to an abandoned house they used as a hangout, telling him they were having a party. When he arrived, they burned, beat and tortured him for hours, and the attack included sexually assaulting him with a miniature baseball bat, prosecutors said.

At the time, the case was one in a spate of alleged anti-gay attacks across the region, and it sparked horror and outrage among city lawmakers and the public who demanded justice.

Ten people were initially arrested, but charges against three were dropped. On June 20, David Rivera, 24, pleaded guilty to the most serious charge of burglary, admitting he went into the homes of two of the victims, flashed what appeared to be a gun and took cash, credit cards and electronics from the home. He will be sentenced to 13 years when he is sentenced July 29. His lawyer didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Nelson Falu, 20, pleaded guilty to robbery, admitting he stole from one of the victims after threatening them with a baseball bat. He will serve seven years behind bars when he is sentenced Aug. 9. His lawyer didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Elmer Confresi, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted gang assault after admitting he injured one of the victims held in the basement. He will be sentenced July 29 to four years.

“He was minimally involved,” said his attorney Patrick Bruno. “I think the district attorney was equitable. They made the distinction.”

Charges against four others are still pending.