PORTLAND — Federal prosecutors have filed hate crime charges against an Oregon man accused of striking a stranger walking a pink poodle while shouting anti-gay slurs.
George Allen Mason Jr. faces one charge of a “hate crime act” after police say he struck David Beltier with a bolt cutter. Beltier was walking his poodle with his boyfriend in Beaverton when police say Mason drove by.
Court papers allege the man hit Beltier once in the shoulder, then grabbed the heavy tool and hit him behind his left ear. Beltier didn’t require medical attention.
Mason “willfully caused bodily injury and, through the use of a dangerous weapon, attempted to cause bodily injury to (Beltier), who is gay, because of (Beltier’s) actual and perceived sexual orientation,” prosecutors wrote in information presented to a grand jury.
Mason, 23, was also charged by the state of Oregon with second-degree intimidation, second-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon and reckless driving. Intimidation is Oregon’s bias-crime statute.
His wife, Saraya Gardner, was charged by federal prosecutors with obstructing justice. Prosecutors said she deliberately misled police looking for Mason, and repeatedly changed her story on the type of weapon used.
The alleged March 1 attack violated the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, enacted in October 2009. The federal charges were triggered because prosecutors believe Mason targeted Beltier because of his perceived sexual orientation.