Pittsburgh police have charged one man for allegedly attacking a gay man, but a defense attorney said the victim wasn't targeted because of his sexuality.
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 bar early Sunday morning with his boyfriend.
According to the criminal complaint, Happ said he and two friends were speaking to each other when an anti-gay slur was used, and that it wasn't directed at Stoviak.
Defense attorney Charles Gallo said the fight was a drunken brawl, and not anything to do with being gay.
“This case was in no way motivated by hate or animus toward the victim based on his sexual orientation,” Gallo said. “It was a party other than Vincent Happ who uttered the slur. This matter was a result of high emotion, bad judgment and alcohol consumption.”
Happ was charged via summons with one count of simple assault, and police say they're still investigating.
Channel 11’s Renee Kaminski confirmed on Thursday that the Pittsburgh office of the FBI has been contacted is officially looking into the incident.
“I can certainly tell you it’s starting to build up all the elements that are necessary for a hate crime,” WPXI legal analyst Phil DiLucente said. “You have to prove the intent that the person knew, in fact, that this protected class was the reason they were going after them.”
Meanwhile, a large group gathered Wednesday night in Lawrenceville to show support for Stoviak. The group carried signs and demanded action against Happ.