Monroe Co. man charged with hate crime in beach brawl

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

A Newport man was charged Tuesday with a hate crime in connection with an attack on an African-American teen, officials with the U.S. Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Lee Mouat, 42, has been charged by criminal complaint in federal district court with violating hate crime under federal law by "willfully" causing bodily injury to the teen because of the teenager’s race, said federal officials.

Mouat confronted a group of African-American teenagers in June at Sterling State Park in Frenchtown Township, about 39 miles southwest of Detroit. Mouat is accused of repeatedly using racial slurs and saying that African-Americans had no right to use the public beach where the incident occurred.

Mouat then struck the teen in the face with a bike lock, knocking out several of the teen's teeth and fracturing his jaw, according to the criminal complaint supporting the hate crime charge.

The incident allegedly incited a brawl between a group of people with Mouat and the teen's group. If convicted, Mouat could face up to 10 years in prison.

The victim, from Monroe, was hospitalized with injuries to his face.

Matthew Schneider, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, called Mouat's alleged actions "deeply offensive."

"The allegations in this case, which essentially amount to violent and blatant racism, are deeply offensive to the values we hold in Michigan,” he said. “We will prosecute this case with strength and vigor, and we will do everything we can to seek justice for the innocent victim of this racist hate crime.” 

Mouat was charged in June by Monroe County officials with assault with intent to do greater bodily harm less than murder, felonious assault, and ethnic intimidation. He was charged as a habitual offender due to a felony conviction in April 2012 out of Defiance County, Ohio, for carrying a concealed weapon, according to Monroe County Prosecutor Michael Roehrig.

A pretrial conference has been scheduled for Mouat for Oct. 30 on the state charges. If convicted on the Michigan charges, he could face up to 10 years in prison.