Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office told a D.C. Superior Court judge on Wednesday that the office is considering classifying as a hate crime an assault charge filed against the second of two women accused of attacking a gay male drag performer in June at a D.C. carry-out pizzeria.
The disclosure by prosecutors that they may upgrade the charge of simple assault against Raymone Harding, 28, to a bias-related offense that could result in a stiffer penalty came one week after they made a similar announcement for co-defendant Rachel Manna Sahle, 22.
The two women were arrested a week and a half after they were captured on video dragging Miles Denaro by the hair across the floor of the restaurant after knocking him down and punching and kicking him. Denaro reported that the women called him a “faggot” and “tranny” during the assault.
Denaro said he was dressed in women’s clothes at the time of the incident. He said he had just finished a drag performance at the nearby Black Cat nightclub.
The video, which was taken by one of the customers at the restaurant near 14th and U Street, N.W., went viral after the customer posted it on a website that caters to hip-hop music enthusiasts.
At the time of their first court appearance in early July, a judge released Harding and Sahle on their own recognizance on the condition that they stay away from Denaro.
During Wednesday’s court hearing, Judge Juliet McKenna scheduled a status hearing for Harding on Sept. 20 at 9:30 a.m., the same time and date the judge last week ordered Sahle to return court for a status hearing.
Court documents posted on the Superior Court’s online docket, which list Harding and Sahle as co-defendants, say Judge McKenna agreed to a request by prosecutors for a continuance in the case while they assess whether to file “enhancement papers” classifying the assault charge as a hate crime.