UPDATE: DOJ takes step forward with latest hate crime indictment

UPDATE: Also last month, the Harlan County case brought the first convictions under the sexual orientation provision of the federal hate crime law. Mable Ashley Jenkins, 19, and Alexis LeeAnn Jenkins, 19, plead guilty to aiding and abetting both kidnapping and a hate crime assault for having tricked Kevin Pennington into getting into a truck with the two other defendants currently under indictment. Click here and here for more information from the Department of Justice.

October 28, 2009 marked a historic step forward in the fight for equality. With the signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, President Obama sent loud and clear the message that freedom from violence is a right all Americans should enjoy.

In an ideal world, the law would never be used. But we know that there are victims who need protections based on sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability. And today, the first-ever indictment was handed down for a violation of the sexual orientation provision of the statute.

The indictment alleges that on April 4, 2011, [David Jason Jenkins, 37, and Anthony Ray Jenkins, 20] kidnapped and assaulted Kevin Pennington because of Pennington’s sexual orientation. According to the indictment, the defendants enlisted two women to trick Pennington into getting into a truck with the defendants, so that the defendants could drive Pennington to a state park and assault him. According to the indictment, the defendants then drove Pennington [to] a secluded area of the Kingdom Come State Park in Kentucky and assaulted him.

What happened to Kevin Pennington is an outrage. That this prosecution is possible is a success for the rule of law.

PFAW