Monroe County man pleads guilty to hate crime in attack on Black teen
A Michigan man pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal hate crime for attacking an African American teen last summer, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Lee Mouat, 43, willfully caused bodily injury to the youth because of his race, officials said in a statement.
Authorities have said he confronted a group of Black teens in June at Sterling State Park in Frenchtown Township, about 40 miles southwest of Detroit.
Mouat "repeatedly used racial slurs and said that Black people had no right to use the public beach where the incident occurred," federal officials said in a statement Tuesday. "Mouat then struck one of the teens in the face with a bike lock, knocking out several of the victim’s teeth, lacerating his face and mouth, and fracturing his jaw."
The Newport resident also tried to strike another Black teen with the lock, according to the release.
“Mouat’s hateful and violent conduct, motivated by racial intolerance, was intended to physically harm the victim as well as create fear within the African-American community,” said Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters of the FBI’s Detroit Division.
The victim was hospitalized after the incident.
"The young victim in this case suffered tremendously from this vicious, racially motivated assault," said Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin for the Eastern District of Michigan. "Every individual citizen has the right to not live in fear of violence or attack based on the color of their skin.”
Monroe County officials initially charged Mouat with assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, felonious assault and ethnic intimidation. He was charged with a hate crime in October.
“Hate-fueled incidents like this one have no place in a civilized society,” said Pamela Karlan, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to using all the tools in our law enforcement arsenal to prosecute violent acts motivated by hate.”
Mouat will be sentenced at a hearing scheduled for June 24. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, three years' supervised release and a fine up to $250,000, officials said.