Wednesday, June 8, 2022

State Attorney Dave Aronberg Fails LGBTQ+ Community Again

Delray Beach Pride Intersection Vandal Walks Away with Slap on the Wrist

At today's sentencing hearing in State v. Jerich, Circuit Court Judge Scott Suskauer refused to sentence Delray Beach LGBTQIA+ Pride Intersection Memorial vandal Alexander Jerich to any jail time.

Instead, Suskauer sentenced Jerich to two years of probation, withholding adjudication, This means Jerich is not being convicted of the felony and the misdemeanor he committed when he used his truck to defaced the memorial, creating “burnouts” which left a set of fifteen-foot black skidmarks.

To view a 16 second video of Jerich's crimes, click here,

Judge Suskauer only ordered Jerich to perform 100 hours of community service, undergo a mental health evaluation, and pay court costs of $774.00.

"This sentence is an outrage to the LGBTQ+ community," said retired judge Rand Hoch, President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC). "The message being sent is 'Come on down to Palm Beach County where you can vanalize cultural memorials all you want with no consequences.'"

PBCHRC is Florida’s oldest, independent, non-partisan, political organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. PBCHRC promotes equality through education, advocacy, direct action, impact litigation, and community outreach..

PBCHRC Charitable Foundation and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation donated the $16,000 to pay for the Delray Beach LGBTQIA+ Pride Intersection Memorial.
State Attorney Dave Aronberg
"Jerich's vandalism was not the only crime committed in this case," said Hoch. "State Attorney Dave Aronberg's inept handling of this case from day one is the reason Jerich was able to walk away today with only a slap on the wrist."

The Delray Beach Police Department Probably Cause Affidavit called for Aronberg to charge Jerich under Florida's hate crime laws since his actions were based on prejudice based on sexual orientation. Aronberg refused to do so.

PBCHRC asked Aronberg to charge Jerich persuant to §806.135(1)(b), Florida Statutes, Destroying or demolishing a memorial or historic property. Under that law, any person who “willfully and maliciously” damages a memorial or other piece of historic property could be charged with a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. 

PBCHRC provided Aronberg with an annotated video of the dedication ceremony, highlighting how all of the elements of the law had been met.

Ignoring the requests of both the police department and PBCHRC, Aronberg only charged Jerich with criminal mischief and reckless dirving.

"Aronberg's charges were completely inappropriate," said Hoch. "This man did not use a can of paint to spray graffitii on a random street. He intentionally used his truck to literally leave marks of hate on a symbol of pride for the LGBTQ+ community."

"Had Aronberg charged Jerich under either of the two requested laws, Suskauer would have been required to consider enhanced penalties -- including a lengthy prison sentence," said Hoch. "Once again, State Attorney Dave Aronberg has failed the LGBTQ+ community."
Alexander Jerich
On March 1, Jerich pleaded guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges. If convicted to those charges, he could have faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Prior to sentencing, PBCHRC Charitable Foundation, which partially paid for the intersection, filed a victim impact statement.
With PBCHRC's hands tied by Aronberg's refusel to charge Jerich as requested, in the Victim Impact Statement, PBCHRC and PBCHRC Charitable Foundation asked Suskauer to (1) convict Jerich of the felony and misdemeanor charges he faces, (2) incarcerate Jerich for no less than one year, (3) place on Jerich on probation for no less than five years, and (4) order Jerich to stay away from the Delray Beach Pride Intersection for the rest of his life.

In contrast, State Attorney Dave Aronberg only recommended (1) 30 days in jail, (2) community service, and (3) five years on probation. Aronberg also recommended withhholding adjudication on the felony count.
"Just two days ago, a man issued a credible threat to shoot up the local LGBTQ+ community at Pride on the Block in West Palm Beach," said Hoch. "Fortunately, no one was hurt and thanks to the West Palm Beach Police Department, the man is now in custody."

"Needless to say, the LGBT+ community remains very concerned with our safety," said Hoch. "Aronberg's failures and Suskauer sentence do nothing to make our community more secure."

1 comment:

  1. I think the Judge's decision was appropriate given the circumstance. Given it was recently repainted, problem solved! I only wish the hundreds of historical statutes that were damaged or defaced that stood for hundreds of years could get the same attention.