Controversial R&B singer Chris Brown pled guilty on Tuesday to a misdemeanor charge of simple assault after admitting he punched a 20-year-old Beltsville, Md., man in the face outside D.C.’s W Hotel last October in an altercation in which he allegedly made an anti-gay comment.
As part of a plea bargain deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, D.C. Superior Court Judge A. Franklin Burgess Jr. agreed to a recommendation by prosecutors that Brown be sentenced to the time he has already served in connection with the case.
He spent two days in the D.C. Jail following his Oct. 27, 2013 arrest in which D.C. police said he assaulted Parker Adams when Adams tried to have his picture taken with Brown outside the hotel.
His arrest in D.C. prompted a judge in California to revoke his probation for a felony assault conviction for attacking his then girlfriend, pop singer Rihanna, just before the 2009 Grammy Awards ceremony. The probation revocation resulted in his serving more than a month in jail in Los Angeles.
Earlier this year, Adams filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against Brown and Brown’s bodyguard, Christopher Hollosy, who was arrested for also punching Adams in the face during the same incident outside the W Hotel.
A D.C. Superior Court judge convicted Hollosy of a charge of simple assault in connection with the incident during a non-jury trial in May. He is awaiting sentencing.
Although Brown’s guilty plea ends the criminal aspect of the D.C. case, the civil suit filed by Adams could drag on for years, requiring Brown to return to D.C. to undergo questioning by Adams’ lawyers in legal deposition sessions prior to the scheduling of a trial.
Attorneys representing Adams and Brown did not immediately respond to questions from the Washington Blade asking about Adams’ allegation that Brown made an anti-gay remark at the time he assaulted Adams.
It its prosecution of Brown, the U.S. Attorney’s office in D.C. did not classify Brown’s assault against Adams as a hate crime under D.C.’s hate crimes statute. The statute enables authorities to charge someone with a hate crime if he or she targets a victim based on the victim’s actual or “perceived” sexual orientation or gender identity. A hate crime charge gives judges authority to hand down an “enhanced” or more severe sentence upon conviction of such a crime.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office carefully analyzes and acts upon any allegations that hate and bias were possible motives in crimes, and seeks enhancements when the evidence supports pursuing them,” William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney, told the Blade.
“In this particular case, the U.S. Attorney’s office reviewed Mr. Brown’s statements and conduct as part of a comprehensive investigation, and determined that the evidence did not support an enhancement,” Miller said.
In testimony during Hollosy’s non-jury trial, Adams told of how the two men punched him seconds after he attempted to position himself next to Brown as Hollosy was about to take a picture of Brown posing outside the hotel with two female friends of Adams, one of whom Adams said was his girlfriend.
Adams told the court during Hollosy’s trial that his girlfriend, Howard University student Jaylan Garrison, 18, and another female friend saw Brown standing outside the hotel. He said Garrison asked Brown if he would pose with her and her female friend for a photo and Brown agreed.
Adams said he then walked over and introduced himself to Brown with the intent of posing with Brown in the picture with the two women. He said that when Brown ignored him he moved into a position where he would be in the photo.
That’s when Brown objected and said, “I ain’t down with that gay shit…I feel like boxing,” Adams quoted Brown as saying. Seconds later, after the two exchanged words, Brown punched him in the face, breaking his nose, Adams testified.
In his lawsuit filed on Feb. 18 against both Brown and Hollosy, Adams asks for $1 million in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages from each of the two men.
“Mr. Adams has incurred significant medical expenses as a direct result of the injuries suffered from the punches delivered by defendants Brown and Hollosy,” the lawsuit states. It states that following the assault Adams was taken by ambulance to George Washington University Hospital, where he was treated for a fractured nose and other facial and head injuries.
In a June 24 legal brief responding to the lawsuit, Brown’s attorneys said Brown denied most of the allegations in the lawsuit asserting that Brown assaulted Adams.
“The defendant acted in self-defense with respect to the plaintiff’s actions, and said self-defense was reasonable and justified under the circumstances,” Brown’s attorneys said in the brief.
“The plaintiff’s actions were the sole and proximate cause of any damages allegedly sustained,” the brief says, adding, “The plaintiff was contributorily negligent.”
Brown’s attorneys, including prominent local defense attorney Danny Onorato, did not respond to a Blade question asking if Brown might invoke the so-called “gay panic defense” in his response to the lawsuit.