News (USA)

Pittsburgh police charge man in alleged bias motivated attack on gay man

Pittsburgh police have charged one man for allegedly attacking a gay man, but a defense attorney says the victim wasn’t targeted because of his sexuality.

Benjamin Stoviak
Benjamin Stoviak

Police charged 24-year-old Vincent Happ on Wednesday.

He’s accused of punching and kicking 26-year-old Benjamin Stoviak, who was leaving a Lawrenceville, Pa., bar early Sunday morning with his boyfriend Aaron MacLachlan.

According to the victims, three men began yelling gay slurs at them before attacking Stoviak.

MacLachlan, 22, escaped without injury.

But Happ says he and his two friends were speaking to each other when the anti-gay slur was used, and that it wasn’t directed at Stoviak or his boyfriend, according to the complaint.

Defense attorney Charles Gallo says the fight was a drunken brawl, and not anything to do with being gay.

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Happ was charged via summons with one count of simple assault, and police say they’re still investigating.

Meanwhile, KDKA-TV reports that a gay advocacy group has contacted the local FBI, and the District Attorney’s office, in hopes of getting the incident classified as a hate crime, although Pennsylvania’s hate crime law does not include attacks motivated by the victim’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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