TEXAS – A 19-year-old man who was charged with severely beating a gay man he had meet on the Internet made his first court appearance in U.S. District Court on Thursday,  federal officials said.

The victim, who is only identified as A.K. in the affidavit attached to the criminal complaint, was hospitalized for 10 days in Fort Worth where he was treated for multiple skull and facial fractures,  according to officials.

Brice Johnson, 19, of Springtown, Texas, is facing up to 10 years in prison for  willfully causing bodily injury to a person because of the actual or perceived sexual orientation of that person in a federal criminal complaint, according to the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Criminal charges against Johnson were filed on Feb. 12.

According to the affidavit filed with the criminal complaint,  officials allege that in the early morning hours of Sept. 2, 2013, the adult male victim, identified as A.K., connected with Johnson through the cell phone application for MeetMe.com.

A.K.’s MeetMe.com page indicated he was a gay man, while Johnson’s page indicated he was not gay.

During their communications, Johnson said that he was interested in engaging in sexual activity with A.K. He invited A.K. to his home, gave A.K. his cell phone number and address and they exchanged text messages planning their sexual activity, according to the affidavit.

After A.K. showed up at the house, Johnson severely beat him, then put him into the trunk of A.K.’s car and drove him to a friend’s home. Based on ligature marks on A.K.’s wrists, it appears that he was bound with an electrical cord while he was in the trunk of the car.

Individuals at the home told Johnson to take A.K. to the hospital or they would call the police, and Johnson eventually drove the victim to an Emergency Medical Services station in Springtown, the affidavit states.

The investigation revealed that on the night of the incident, Johnson saved A.K.’s cell phone number using a gay slur as a contact name and Johnson later stated that he was playing a prank on the victim because of his sexual orientation, again using a gay slur when referring to A.K.

According to the affidavit, A.K. said that he had no physical contact with Johnson prior to the attack.

Johnson is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

 

By Raul

Raul Hernandez is a former journalist. He has worked as a newspaper reporter for more than 30 years at the El Paso Herald-Post, El Paso Times, Press Enterprise in Riverside, California and the Ventura County Star in California. He was a court reporter for more than 20 years.

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