In 2013, two Hasidic men, 22-year-old Pinchas Braver and 42-year-old Abraham Winkler, admitted to brutally beating Taj Patterson, a gay African-American man.
Patterson, a fashion student, was blinded in one eye as a result of an attack by a “group of at least 12 Hasidic men” when he was heading to his Fort Greene home after a night out.
He said the men shouted homophobic insults as they beat him.
“I was alone. I was an easy target. I'm black. I'm gay, a whole slew of reasons,” says Patterson.
Braver and Winkler were initially charged with gang hate crime and faced up to 25 years in prison.
However, they pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment in a plea deal that meant they avoided jail in exchange for three years of probation, paying $1,400 restitution and performing community service in a “culturally diverse” placement.
The two, however, are now trying to get out of doing it in a “culturally diverse” neighborhood — at Chai Lifeline, a group that works with Jewish children with life-threatening illnesses, to be precise.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun delayed sentencing Braver and Winkler for a week so they could find another satisfactory placement — but they still haven’t.
Braver’s attorney Robert LaRusso said the problem isn’t finding an organization, it's meeting the criteria of “culturally diverse” that prosecutors have suggested.
“It’s not a problem — it’s just being able to satisfy the prosecutor that the agency that we are asking the community service to be performed is satisfactory to them,” LaRusso said.
Braver and Winkler have 30 days to find another placement or the Department of Probation will place them in a community program.