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Alleged Assault Not Hate Crime

An alleged assault in Rapid City highlights some of the fine print in South Dakota’s hate crime law.
This week police responded to a call from a victim who says he was assaulted by a young white male.   
According to the police report, the juvenile suspect drove up to the victim, got out of his truck and asked him if he was gay.  The suspect then allegedly assaulted the victim and drove away.   The victim did not require medical attention.
The Rapid City police later questioned the suspect and handed the case over to the State’s Attorney’s office with a recommended charge of simple assault.   
In South Dakota if you assault someone on the basis of race it can be prosecuted as a hate crime which is a felony.    But this is not the case if you attack someone on the basis of their sexual orientation.   Tarah Heupel with the Rapid City Police Department.  
“The South Dakota hate crime statute does not make mention of sexual orientation.  So from what we’ve seen this particular assault would not qualify as a hate crime under the statute,” says Heupel.
The case involves a juvenile suspect – so few if any details are available to the public.  Mark Vargo the Pennington County State’s Attorney says his office is reviewing the case before deciding how to proceed.

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