Yesterday a federal grand jury in Portland, Ore., indicted George Allen Mason Jr., 23, and his wife, Saraya Sophia Lisa Gardner, 23, on charges related to a the assault of a 26-year-old gay man who was walking his dog with his boyfriend on the streets of Hillsboro, Ore., which occurred because of animus against the victim’s sexual orientation.
Mason is charged with violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act that was enacted in October 2009. The indictment alleges that Mason struck the victim with a metal tool because of the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, thereby causing bodily injury to the victim.
Gardner is charged with one count of obstruction of justice for knowingly and intentionally misleading Hillsboro Police Department (HPD) officers in statements she provided in connection with the investigation of Mason. The indictment alleges that Gardner lied about Mason’s whereabouts at the time HPD officers were searching for him and that she further misled HPD officers when she repeatedly changed her story as to the weapon that Mason used to strike the victim.
Mason faces a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Gardner faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
This case is being investigated by the Portland Division of the FBI in cooperation with HPD. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hannah Horsley of the District of Oregon and Trial Attorney Fara Gold of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.