Friday, October 5, 2007
Southlake teen faces hate crime charges in D.C.
Georgetown student allegedly used anti-gay slur in beating.
A Southlake man has been charged with a hate crime after he allegedly attacked a fellow student while yelling homophobic epithets near the campus of Georgetown University, according to news reports.
Phillip Anderton Cooney, a 19-year-old sophomore from the Tarrant County hamlet, is charged with simple assault with a bias/hate-crime specification, CNN.com reported. Cooney became a suspect after the victim in the Sept. 9 beating identified his alleged assailant using the networking Web site Facebook.
The victim told police he was walking on O Street near the university when someone called out, "Look at macho man Randy Savage with the tank top," followed by an anti-gay slur, according to local news affiliate NBC 4.
The victim continued walking but was followed, tackled and punched repeatedly, reports said. He suffered a broken thumb and cuts and bruises to his face.
Police have not identified the victim, also 19, and it is unclear whether he is gay.
The victim later learned from a friend that Cooney had discussed the attack in a class, Gay.com reported. The friend gave the victim the initials off Cooney's monogrammed backpack.
The victim, who also remembered the suspect's appearance, began searching Facebook profiles, and on Sept. 27, police arrested Cooney.
Simple assault ordinarily carries a sentence of up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine. However, with the hate-crimes enhancement, Cooney faces up to 270 days in jail and a $1,500 fine, according to an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
After Cooney appeared in court on Friday, Sept. 28, his attorney maintained his client's innocence and compared the case to the Duke lacrosse controversy.
"The police investigation was nothing," attorney Danny Onorato told NBC 4. "You have a complaining witness who said he saw somebody who he thinks might have attacked him vis-a-vis the Web.
"That's the investigation. Did they try to talk to Mr. Cooney before they arrested him? No. Would you expect the police to do that? Yes."
Several Web sites reported that Cooney is the son of Phillip Anderton Cooney, President Bush's former chief of staff to the President's Council on Environmental Quality.
The senior Cooney resigned in 2005 to become an ExxonMobil lobbyist after it was learned that he had altered reports to cast doubt on the link between greenhouse-gas emissions and global warming, according to reports.