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Hate crime charge filed in McDonald's transgender beating

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The 18-year-old woman charged in an attack on a transgender woman at a Rosedale McDonald’s, which was captured on video that went viral on the Internet, will face an additional hate crime charge after being indicted Monday by a Baltimore Countygrand jury.

Activists for the gay, lesbian and transgender community had expressed concern that hate crime charges weren’t initially filed by police last month, after Chrissy Lee Polissaid she was assaulted in an apparent dispute over her using a woman’s restroom.

On Monday, the activists called the new count in the indictment against Teonna Brown appropriate and necessary. A hate crime charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, which could be added to the 25-year maximum for the assault charge Brown already faces.

Prosecutors “came to the only possible conclusion in deciding to try the assault on Chrissy Lee Polis as a hate crime,” said Lynne Bowman, the interim executive director of Equality Maryland. “Lack of understanding or fear about someone who is transgender is never an excuse for violence, and when it occurs, it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Sandy Rawls, who founded Trans-United, a Baltimore-based group that fights transgender discrimination, praised the work of police and prosecutors in the case but said the charge is not reason to celebrate.

“It’s a tragedy for everybody involved,” Rawls said. “It’s a tragedy for the community, it’s a tragedy for Chrissy and it’s a tragedy for those”charged in the beating.

Brown’s attorney, Timothy P. Knepp, declined to discuss the case in detail but said “anything that happened, happened in self-defense.”

Brown is “a well-mannered, thoughtful young lady, and I firmly believe that when this case comes to trial, she’ll be found not guilty,” Knepp said. He said hate crime charges “certainly do not apply in this case.”

Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger declined to comment on the indictment because the case is pending. A 15-year-old suspect remains charged as a juvenile.


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