LEXINGTON, Ky. - Federal jurors decided Wednesday that cousins Jason and Anthony Jenkins did not commit a hate crime when they assaulted a gay man at a rural Kentucky state park last year, but the two defendants were found guilty of kidnapping.
Prosecutors alleged that the attack on Kevin Pennington happened because of Pennington’s sexual orientation, but the jury acquitted the Jenkins men of those charges.
Kerry Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, says he respects the opinion of the jury.
“We are particularly gratified that these defendants have been convicted of very serious federal crimes and we expect that the punishment will reflect the severity of those crimes.”
Witnesses testified that the Jenkins men yelled anti-gay slurs while they beat the victim, but defense attorneys argued the cause of the fight was a bad drug deal.
This case marks the first prosecution in the country to involve the sexual orientation part of the federal hate crimes law. Harvey says his office is committed to protecting the rights of victims.
“We certainly will have no reluctance in bringing charges under the hate crimes statute or any other applicable federal statute when the facts warrant.”
The defendants face up to life in prison for the kidnapping conviction. Sentencing is set for February.