Teen sentenced for hate crime in Sandy, Utah

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The teen who was charged with a hate crime for assaulting and taunting a young Sandy man as he hugged his boyfriend goodnight was sentenced Wednesday in Third District Juvenile Court.

The 17-year-old was arrested and charged with simple assault with a hate crime enhancement after punching Christian Peacock in the face and yelling homophobic slurs on the July 30 attack on Christian Peacock of Sandy, Utah.

Juvenile Court Judge Steven Beck sentenced the teen to nearly 30 days of time served, probation, service hours working with the LGBTQ community, and restitution in an amount to be determined as the victim’s attorneys assess the costs.

“The impact of your actions goes beyond what happened that night,” the judge said in his ruling. “I believe from the psychological report I read that you are starting to understand that. That is what the juvenile justice system is about — kids learning to take responsibility for their actions.”

Beck terminated a previous order for home detention. He called for further psychological evaluation and ordered the teen to volunteer with an LGBTQ organization “under circumstances comfortable for everyone.”

“I think this would be helpful for everybody involved,” Beck said. “It is important that we learn from each other.”

Beck ordered the gathering of DNA, a restriction on ownership of any weapons, a restriction on contact with Peacock and his boyfriend, and the payment of restitution. He further ordered the teen to write an apology letter to Peacock after attending an empathy class.

An attorney for Peacock, Paul Burke of Ray Quinney & Nebeker, spoke on his behalf, saying that the assault was a difficult experience.

“This was a hate crime,” Burke said. “Christian was targeted for who he is, proven by the words that came out of [the teen’s] mouth.”

“The impact of this crime is something Christian will live with for a long time,” Burke continued. “He was attacked for who he is, where he lives.”

In social media, it has been stated that Christian no longer feels safe in his home, so he stays with his boyfriend. When he does return home, he is greeted by bright security lights that the family purchased because of threats they have received.

“Every time I drive up, I remember what happened because of those bright lights and cameras that turn on and talk to me as I walk to my door,” Peacock said in a statement. “I’m really hoping I can just stop thinking about it all and concentrate on school and my relationship with my boyfriend.”

The teen’s mother told the court that his arrest has been a “good experience for him.”

“This has been a turnaround in [the teen’s] life,” she said. “He sees things differently and has more empathy.”

After the sentencing, Peacock’s lawyers said they were satisfied.

“We appreciate how seriously the state took this case,” said attorney Chris Wharton of Wharton Law, PLLC. “This is obviously not just an important day for our client, but for anybody in the LGBTQ+ community.”

Wharton said that the charge was enhanced.

“It was enhanceable as a hate crime, so that enabled the state to charge it one level above what he would normally be charged for as an assault,” Wharton explained.

Wharton also expressed satisfaction with the sentence of community service at the Utah Pride Center.

“It’s very common when you have a hate crime or a bias-motivated crime for there to be some kind of community service component back to the community that has been targeted,” Wharton said.

Wharton said that the kind of community service that the teen will ultimately perform will be worked out with the Utah juvenile probation department.

“I think [the sentence] gives a powerful message that, particularly in Salt Lake County and in the state of Utah that bias-motivated crime is going to be punished to the greatest extent of the law,” Wharton said. “We need people to feel that they are going to be safe in Salt Lake County and in Utah.”

As for the others involved in the attack, Christian Peacock’s mother, Stefanie Peacock, has been contacting Sandy City Police asking when she can expect arrests, but there has been no reply. Stefanie and her family, according to Medium writer James Finn, “did the job the Sandy Police should have done, identifying the men in the car, all of whom are legal adults, and all of whom should be equally culpable in (at least) the ‘initiating a riot’ charge. She’s incensed that [Hayden] Stowell, seen by multiple witnesses behaving in a sexually lewd manner to her then-17-year-old son, has faced no criminal consequences.”

Dozens of people were on the plaza of the Scott M. Matheson Courthouse with rainbow flags and signs to show support for the Peacock family and the LGBTQ community. Among them were members of Mama Dragons, Dragon Dads, and Project Rainbow Utah. One man drove the night from California just to be there to support the family.

“I was there because [LGBTQ] youth need to know they matter by us being present,” said Project Rainbow’s Dallas Rivas. “It’s easy to tell our kids we love them but being there shows them.”

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