A fourth teenager has been accused of beating a 14-year-old boy on a school bus this week because they suspected he was gay, and three of them taunted him about it, Nassau County police said.
The latest suspect to be arrested is a 14-year-old Elmont boy whose name was not released because he was charged as a juvenile. He was charged with assault a hate crime and aggravated harassment, same as 18-year-old David Spencer of North Valley Stream and Chase Morrison, 16, of Lakeview.
Spencer and 16-year-old Roy Wilson of Baldwin—who was the only one of the four not additionally charged with aggravated harassment—were arraigned Thursday at First District Court in Hempstead. Morrison is scheduled to be arraigned Friday and the juvenile will appear at Nassau County Family Court at a later date.
Police said the foursome attacked the victim on a bus leaving the Nassau BOCES center in Hicksville on Tuesday afternoon and “stomped and kicked on his arms, legs, stomach and thigh.” The next morning, Spencer, Morrison and the juvenile again “made disparaging remarks to the victim regarding his sexual orientation and assaulted the victim by slapping him in the head and face,” police said in a statement.
The victim, who has not been identified, suffered a visible bruise on his forearm and substantial pain throughout his body. Police said it is unclear if the bus driver had witnessed the suspects harassing the victim, noting the abuse had allegedly been going on “for some time” although this was the first incident of physical abuse.
“We felt this was bias-related,” Detective Lt. John MacEwen told reporters Thursday.
Spencer is being held at Nassau County jail after a judge set his bail at $1,000. Wilson was released on $500 cash bail.
Both were represented by attorneys from Legal Aid, which does not comment on pending cases. The name of Morrison’s attorney was not immediately available. Spencer and Wilson are due back in court on Oct. 18.
The arrests come just days after 10 men were charged in the Bronx with what New York City officials say was one of the worst cases of anti-gay violence in recent memory. Police say a group of gang members beat and sodomized a 17-year-old recruit because they thought he was gay. Another 17-year-old also thought to be gay was attacked, and a 30-year-old and his brother were beaten as well.
Advocates with the nonprofit Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth condemned the Hicksville attacks.
“Events like these attacks contribute to the epidemic of GLBT youth suicide,” said David Kilmnick, head of the organization, alluding to seven recent highly publicized cases nationwide. “A clear message must be sent to the community that whether the attackers are students on a school bus or candidates for public office like Carl Paladino, homophobic language, harassment and violence cannot, and will not be tolerated.”
GOP gubernatorial candidate Paladino caused a stir Sunday when he said in a speech in Brooklyn that he believes homosexuality is not acceptable. He later apologized for his remarks.