Two Atlanta men, Christopher Cain and Dorian Moragne, pleaded guilty to beating a man because of his sexual orientation today in federal court before Senior United States District Judge J. Owen Forrester.
On February 4, 2012, Cain, 19, Moragne, 21, and a juvenile attacked a 20-year-old gay man as he left a grocery store located in Atlanta’s Pittsburgh neighborhood. Cain, Moragne and the juvenile are all associated with the Jack City street gang.
“Violence against another person because of his or her sexual orientation has no place in our civilized society,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “The citizens of this district should know that we are committed to aggressively prosecuting hate crimes.”
Cain and Moragne admitted to violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which criminalizes certain acts of violence motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender or gender identity.
Cain and Moragne are the first in Georgia to be charged with a violation of the sexual orientation section of the federal hate crimes law.
According to Yates and other information presented in court, Cain punched the victim in the head and pushed him to the ground. Cain, Moragne and the juvenile proceeded to repeatedly punch and kick the victim while yelling anti-gay slurs, including “No f****** in Jack City.”
During the encounter, Moragne picked up a tire and struck the victim with it. The group also stole the victim’s cell phone. A fourth person recorded the assault using a cell phone and later posted the video footage to the Internet.
“Hate-fueled violence will not be condoned,” said Roy L. Austin Jr., Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will use all the tools in our law enforcement arsenal to investigate and prosecute hate crimes.”
Last year, Cain, Moragne and the juvenile were prosecuted in Fulton County Superior Court for offenses excluding the hate crime. The juvenile was considered an adult under Georgia law. In State court, Cain and Moragne entered a plea agreement in which they were sentenced to a term of ten years imprisonment suspended after completion of five years’ service. Federal prosecutors recommended that their Federal and State sentences run concurrently.
“The FBI remains committed to ensuring the civil rights of all individuals, to include those singled out and attacked because of their perceived differences,” said Mark F. Giuliano, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office. “These acts of violence should be reported and aggressively investigated to ensure that we send a clear message that these actions will not be tolerated.”
This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the FBI and Detectives with the Atlanta Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brent Alan Gray and Trial Attorney Nicole Lee Ndumele of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
(Photo: Mugshot of Christopher Cain)