OROVILLE, Calif. – A Chico man was arraigned in Butte County Superior Court Friday afternoon on misdemeanor charges, including a hate crime.
According to the Butte County District Attorney’s Office, 34-year-old Alexander Jefferson of Chico was charged with committing a hate crime battery against a juvenile victim in the bathroom of a fitness center in Chico.
Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said that the charges stem from a January 10 incident in the bathroom of a Chico fitness center in which Jefferson is alleged to have attacked a 16-year-old boy inside of the bathroom of the facility around 8 a.m.
Authorities say that the juvenile victim accused Jefferson of coming up behind him while he was using the urinal. According to the victim, Jefferson allegedly told the teen that he believed the teen to be gay and then punched him in the back of the head.
When the victim turned around to notify Jefferson that he was only 16 years old, Jefferson reportedly punched the victim again, this time in the mouth and nose area. The juvenile victim quickly exited the restroom and requested the fitness center staff to call the police.
Officers with the Chico Police Department quickly responded to the fitness center and made contact with the victim. According to authorities, the victim stated that he never had a conversation with Jefferson and did not know why Jefferson had attacked him.
Officers noticed redness on the victim’s face and two abrasions on the inside of his lower lip. Officers determined that the injuries were consistent with someone who had just been hit in the face.
The officers made contact with Jefferson in the men’s bathroom. While giving his statement to the police, authorities say that the officers noted Jefferson made statements indicating animus towards gays. Jefferson was then taken into custody for battering the juvenile victim.
Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey noted that because the underlying battery was allegedly motivated by hate towards gays, his office elected to prosecute the case as a higher-level misdemeanor hate crime charge, which doubles the battery sentence from six months to a possible one-year jail term.