Ann Arbor man charged for attacking transgender woman during Pride Month


The transgender pride flag. - SHUTTERSTOCK
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  • The transgender pride flag.

A Washtenaw County man has been charged for the violent assault of a transgender woman.

James Greggs, 59, of Ann Arbor, was arraigned Tuesday in Washtenaw County’s 14-A District Court, charged with one count each of Second-degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, Felonious Assault, and Ethnic Intimidation.

Prosecutors alleged that on June 8, "Greggs cut the victim with a box cutter, hit her in the face, and strangled her while disparaging her for being a transgender woman, and then grabbed her breasts in an effort to humiliate her."

The prosecutors alleged Greggs assaulted the victim because she is a transgender woman. If convicted, Greggs faces up to fifteen years in prison for the criminal sexual conduct charge.

Earlier this year, Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit issued new guidelines that called for hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to be prosecuted under the Ethnic Intimidation law. His office also partnered with the Fair Michigan Justice Project, a program that assists Michigan law enforcement officers and prosecutors in solving serious crimes against LGBTQ people.

"It is tragic that this case happened during Pride Month, which celebrates the LGBTQ community and culture," Fair Michigan President Alanna Maguire said in a statement. "The Fair Michigan Justice Project is proud to partner with the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office and law enforcement agencies to aggressively prosecute these ruthless crimes."

"My office partnered with Fair Michigan last March specifically to address crimes against members of the LGBTQ community," Savit said in a statement. "We are grateful for their assistance in facing the circumstances in this case, and will steadfastly pursue justice for the victim and the community."

As Savit's office points out, Michigan's laws regarding hate crimes do not expressly prohibit crimes based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The "Ethnic Intimidation" law provides that a person is "guilty of ethnic intimidation" if that person acted "because of [the crime victim's] race, color, religion, gender, or national origin." While sexual orientation and gender identity are not listed as protected categories, in recent years courts have ruled that similar provisions prohibiting discrimination "because of sex" also prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

"These issues are still being sorted out by the Michigan courts," Savit wrote in a memo issuing the new hate crimes guidelines in February."But all signs point to the courts ultimately concluding that Michigan’s ethnic intimidation law covers acts based on sexual orientation and gender identity."

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