September 12, 2013 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Possible hate crime charge in assault on drag performer
Miles DeNiro, Manny & Olga's, hate crime, gay news, Washington Blade

Miles Denaro was dragged by the hair across the floor of a restaurant, punched and kicked by two women. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is considering hate crime charges. (Screen capture)

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.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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