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NY Court Overturns Hasidic Man’s Conviction Of Assault and Gay Bashing

A New York state appeals court overturned the conviction of a Hasidic Jewish man who was found guilty in the beating of a gay black man

The Second Judicial Department Appellate Division on Wednesday overturned the conviction of Mayer Herskovic’s for last year in the beating of gay black man Taj Patterson, who became blind in one eye as a result of the assault against him on December 2013 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Patterson was walking in Williamsburg, neighborhood when he was attacked by a dozen men who were part of an Orthodox neighborhood watch group.

The men beat Patterson while saying, “Stay down, faggot, stay the fuck down.” He was left blind in one eye after the brutal attack.

The men accused Patterson of vandalizing cars, even though they had not filed a police report and police found the claim of vandalism to be unfounded.

Several months later, five men were indicted. Charges were dismissed against two of them, two of them pleaded guilty and got community service, but Mayer Herskovic’s case went to tria

Herskovic was found guilty at his non-jury trial in September 2016 of gang assault and other charges. 

The appeals panel cited Patterson’s “inability to positively identify any of his attackers, the varying accounts regarding the incident, and the DNA evidence, which was less than convincing,” as their reason for overturning the conviction and the indictment.

The judges also found that the DNA testing fell below traditional standards — citing that the lab had relied on less genetic material than normally allowed and that the numbers didn’t definitively point to Herskovic as the attacker.

“We respect the court’s decision,” said a spokesman with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.

In order to retry the case, the DA’s office would have to secure a fresh indictment. The office did not immediately indicate whether or not it intended to convene another grand jury.

In June, Mr. Patterson sued the New York Police Department and New York City in federal court, claiming they improperly favored the Shomrim, the Orthodox security patrol to which some of the five alleged assailants.

The lawsuit is still pending in US District Court in Brooklyn.

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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