New York City prosecutors indicted five Hasidic Jewish men on Wednesday for cruelly and viciously beating a gay black man back in December.
The alleged attack occurred on Dec. 1 at around 5 a.m. on Flushing Avenue in a heavily Orthodox section of the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.
The victim, 23-year-old fashion student Taj Patterson, was walking in the area after a Saturday night out on the town. He was “highly intoxicated,” noted the Daily News at the time.
The accused men claim to have been volunteering as part of a Hasidic neighborhood watch group called the Williamsburg Safety Patrol Unit, reports The New York Times. The members of the group, also known as a shomrim, say the scuttlebutt was that someone was damaging cars in the area.
When the five men – and possibly more than seven others – saw Patterson, they allegedly jumped him—holding him down, kicking him and punching him. They also called him gay slurs. At one point, Patterson asserted, one of the men said, “Stay down, faggot,” according to New York magazine.
Eventually, the driver of a B57 bus pulled over and started taking pictures of the brutal scene with her cellphone. That’s when the assailants reportedly fled.
Patterson suffered a number of serious injuries including a torn retina, a broken eye socket, blood clotting and many bruises and cuts.
The five men indicted Wednesday are Pinchas Braver, 19; Mayer Herskovic, 21; Joseph Fried, 25; Aharon Hollander, 28; and Abraham Winkler, 39.
They face a raft of serious felony charges including gang assault, notes CBS New York. Each defendant faces up to 25 years in prison if he is found guilty.
No hate crimes charges are pending in the case.
Part of the delay in prosecution resulted because two of the freshly-charged defendants fled overseas in attempts to avoid prosecution, according to The Jerusalem Post.
“We simply cannot allow anyone walking on the streets of Brooklyn to be knocked to the ground, stomped and brutally beaten,” Brooklyn district attorney Kenneth Thompson said in a statement obtained by the Daily News.