Authorities have decided not to pursue hate crime charges in the kidnapping and weeklong torture of a black woman. They will instead go after the suspects, who are white, on state charges that carry stiffer penalties.
While federal civil rights or state hate crime charges remain an option, a state kidnapping count that carries a sentence of up to life in prison will provide the best chance for successful prosecution, officials have said.
Six people face charges, including kidnapping, sexual assault and lying to police in the torture of Megan Williams, 20, at a remote hillside home in Big Creek.
The woman’s captors forced her to eat rat droppings, choked her with a cable cord and stabbed her in the leg while using a racial slur, according to criminal complaints. They also poured hot water over her, made her drink from a toilet, and beat and sexually assaulted her during a span of about a week, the documents say.
Ms. Williams was not a random target according to prosecutor Brian Abraham. She had a “social relationship” with one of the suspects, he said.