An alleged attack in a La Crosse park against two juveniles, including a transgender female, cannot be prosecuted as a “hate crime” in La Crosse County, and the mayor of La Crosse has spoken out about that.
Mayor Mitch Reynolds said the two juveniles — reported to be a biological male and a female who’s transgender — were attacked and called names by a 40-year-old man at Copeland Park on Tuesday.
Suspect Travis Crawford is in La Crosse County jail for disorderly conduct and substantial battery.
Crawford allegedly accused the juveniles of stealing his bike, as well as engaging in sexual activity. He also used anti-gay slurs while talking to them.
The male victim said he tried to get Crawford to go away and was kicked in the face by him.
In a statement from the mayor’s office, Reynolds said Wisconsin state law does not classify offenses against transgender victims as hate crimes.
La Crosse district attorney Tim Gruenke said use of the hate crime enhancer is limited.
The law “may enhance the crime of battery to add additional punishment,” Gruenke said, “but transgender is not one of the options under the hate crime legislation.”
Crawford has been assigned a public defender, and he has a preliminary hearing scheduled next week.
“We could always add additional counts,” Gruenke said. “Usually after a preliminary hearing, we file what’s called an arraignment … and we could file additional charges there as well. So, there are opportunities to modify or change or add additional charges.”