02/22/2007

SPLC Sues Klansmen on Behalf of Beaten Youth

 

The Center filed suit today against two Klansmen who savagely beat a teenage boy at a carnival in Kentucky last July.

The lawsuit defendants - Jarred Hensley, 24, of Cincinnati and Andrew Watkins, 26, of Louisville - are members of the Imperial Klans of America, the nation's largest Klan group at the time of the assault. In separate legal action, they were each sentenced today to three years after pleading guilty to second-degree assault.

The Klansmen apparently targeted the 16-year-old boy, whose father is a Kuna Indian from Panama, because they thought he was Hispanic. They beat, kicked and spit on him during the attack, which occurred shortly after midnight at the Meade County Fairgrounds in Brandenburg, Ken. They also shouted racial epithets and threw whiskey on him.

The teenager suffered two cracked ribs, a broken left forearm, multiple cuts and bruises, and jaw injuries that required extensive dental repair. Traumatized by the beating, he is seeking mental health treatment.

The Klansmen were arrested at the scene and initially charged with disorderly conduct and alcohol intoxication in a public place. On Aug. 10, Hensley and Watkins appeared in court and were arrested on assault charges. Hensley was wearing the same steel-toed black boots with red laces that he wore during the assault.

A Meade County grand jury on Sept. 11 indicted the men on second-degree assault as a hate crime, alcohol intoxication in a public place and disorderly conduct. They have remained in jail since their arrest.

The Center's lawsuit, filed in Meade County Circuit Court, seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.