CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A judge has ruled that West Virginia law doesn't consider violence or threats of violence based solely on a victim's sexual orientation a hate crime.
The decision Friday allows hate crime charges to be dropped against ex-Marshall University football player Steward Butler, who's accused of assaulting two gay men after seeing them kiss on a city street.
Cabell County Circuit Court Judge Paul Farrell wrote that the state Legislature has had multiple opportunities to adjust its civil rights protections to include sexual orientation but hasn't.
Butler pleaded not guilty to two counts of felony civil rights violations and two counts of misdemeanor battery in the alleged April incident.
The state Supreme Court had declined to hear a request by Farrell on whether the law protected against violent actions based only on sexual orientation.