Texas Man Indicted on Federal Hate Crime and Kidnapping Charges for Assault Based on Victim’s Sexual Orientation
WASHINGTON—A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment against Brice Johnson, 19, of Springtown, Texas, charging him with willfully causing bodily injury to a person because of the actual or perceived sexual orientation of that person and with kidnapping, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Texas, and the FBI Dallas Division announced today.
On February 19, 2014, a federal criminal complaint was unsealed charging Johnson with a hate crime. The indictment charges Johnson with the same hate crime offense and further charges that Johnson’s actions included kidnapping.
According to the affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, in the early morning hours of September 2, 2013, the adult male victim, identified as A.K., connected with Johnson through the cell phone application for MeetMe.com. A.K.’s MeetMe.com page indicated he was a gay man, while Johnson’s page indicated he was not gay. During their chat communications, Johnson said that he was interested in engaging in sexual activity with A.K., and he invited A.K. to his home. Johnson gave A.K. his cell phone number and address, and they exchanged text messages planning their sexual activity.
After A.K. showed up at the house, Johnson severely beat him and then put him into the trunk of A.K.’s car and drove him to a friend’s house. Based on ligature marks on A.K.’s wrists, it appears that he was bound while he was in the trunk of the car. Individuals at the home told Johnson to take A.K. to the hospital or they would call the police, and Johnson eventually drove A.K. to an Emergency Medical Services station in Springtown.
A.K. was hospitalized for 10 days in Fort Worth, and he was diagnosed and treated for multiple skull and facial fractures. The investigation revealed that on the night of the incident, Johnson saved A.K.’s cell phone number using a gay slur as a contact name, and Johnson later stated that he was playing a prank on A.K. because of A.K.’s sexual orientation, again using a gay slur when referring to A.K. According to the affidavit, A.K. said that he had no physical contact with Johnson prior to the attack.
An indictment merely establishes probable cause, and Johnson is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. Each count carries a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The investigation is being conducted by the FBI, the Springtown Police Department, and the Parker County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cara Foos Pierce and Trial Attorney Saeed Mody of the Civil Rights Division.