A Ross man charged with assaulting a gay man in Lawrenceville last fall was sentenced Tuesday to three months of probation after pleading guilty to a lesser charge.
Vincent Happ, 24, pleaded guilty to one count of summary harassment and agreed to pay restitution and medical bills for Benjamin Stoviak, 27, Mr. Happ's attorney Charles Gallo said. He had been originally charged with one count of simple assault, a misdemeanor.
Mr. Happ told Pittsburgh police that he and four friends left a bar on Butler Street early Oct. 6 and some people in the group began using a pejorative word for a gay person to refer to one another when Mr. Stoviak, 26, of Squirrel Hill, and his boyfriend overheard them and thought the remarks were directed at them.
At some point, he and Mr. Stoviak exchanged words, according to a criminal complaint, and a fight started. Mr. Stoviak’s face was bloody and several bruises were beginning to form when police arrived shortly after 2:30 a.m.
The fight attracted attention when local LGBTQ groups began advocating for Mr. Stoviak and some asked why the case wasn’t prosecuted as a hate crime. Mr. Gallo has said: "We vehemently deny that this is a hate crime. This has nothing to do with anyone being gay."
He said this week that Mr. Stoviak consented to the lesser charge and that he's looking into cultural competency classes for his client.