LEXINGTON, Ky. - Two eastern Kentucky men have been charged with a federal hate crime in an attack against a gay man last year, marking the first time the law has been applied in a case involving a victim's sexual orientation.
According to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court, 37-year-old David Jason Jenkins and 20-year-old Anthony Ray Jenkins, beat up Kevin Pennington in April of last year because he is gay.
The two men were arraigned Thursday and pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping and assault.
“The penalty potentially is any term of years up to life in prison. So these are very serious charges with very serious penalties,” says Kerry Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
Officials say this case marks the first time in the nation that the federal hate crime law was cited alleging bias against a gay victim. The law was expanded in 2009 to cover crimes motivated by a person’s sexual orientation.