SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 21, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Two Wyoming men are now charged with criminal assault in an alleged attack on a pair of gay men near a Salt Lake City bar in 2014.
On Wednesday, the men were each charged in 3rd District Court with two counts of assault, one a class A misdemeanor and the other a class B misdemeanor.
But Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said he’s disappointed he was not able to file enhanced charges in the alleged hate crime.
Gill says his hands were tied by a “Utah hate crimes law that is unenforceable in cases like the one,” filed against Eric Levi Johnson, 26, of Rock Springs and Chad Ryan Doak, 25, of Green River.
Rusty Andrade and his friend, Maxwell Christen, are the alleged victims in the case. Both men lobbied the legislature earlier this year for a new and stronger hate crimes law, but the bill ultimately failed in the Utah Senate.
Andrade told Gephardt Daily he has “mixed reactions to the charges filed.” He is glad for some sort of justice to be served but disappointed with the lack of teeth in the law and punishment for the alleged crimes.
Since the attack on Dec. 21, 2014 near Club JAM, Andrade’s been struggling to come back emotionally and physically.
“I spent the last, almost two years, trying to recover.”
Andrade is committed to seeing the case through and continuing to lobby for a stronger hate crimes law, he said.
Andrade suffered head trauma, neck strain, a bruised rib and had several of his teeth knocked loose. Christen suffered a chin bruise and soreness to his face and neck.
Johnson and Doak allegedly approached and attacked Andrade and Christen as the men walked home from a Christmas party. The Wyoming men are also accused of insulting the gay men about their homosexuality and yelling homophobic slurs against them. A neighbor and a bouncer helped break up the attack.
Police were able to identify Johnson and Doak when they returned to the area to collect a wallet Doak left at the scene.
However, neither Johnson nor Doak have spent a day in jail.
Meanwhile, Andrade says, “We’ve (he and Christen) have been imprisoned while they went free.”
Andrade said he still appreciates all the support from the law enforcement community that investigated the case including the Salt Lake Police, FBI, U.S. Attorney’s office, and Gill’s office.
Andrade is ready “to move on personally but thinks about people who are not able to stand up for themselves.”
There are victims who have shared their stories with him but no one else, Andrade said. That is why he will continue the fight in the upcoming legislature for a hate crimes law that protects a person from being victimized because of his/her sexual preference.
Warrants have been filed Wednesday seeking the arrests of Johnson and Doak.