Five Hasidic men were charged today in the December beating of Taj Patterson, a 22-year-old student who was attacked while leaving a party in Williamsburg, the New York Times reports. While the NYPD initially investigated the attack as a bias crime—Patterson, who is gay and black, alleged he was assaulted by a group of ultra-Orthodox men who shouted anti-gay slurs at him—the suspects were ultimately charged with assault, gang assault and unlawful imprisonment.
The five men charged, all of whom pleaded not-guilty and were released on bail, were named as Aharon Hollender, 28, Abraham Winkler, 39, Mayer Herskovic, 21, Pinchas Braver, 19, and Joseph Fried, 25. The Daily News reports that at least two of the men charged were members of the Williamsburg Safety Patrol Unit, known as the Shomrim, a Jewish neighborhood watch group. Gothamist reports all five men are associated with the watch group.
According to the Times, Shomrim spokesperson Joseph Pollack denied the claims that all five men were Shomrim members, saying “reports that all five defendants indicted today are members of our organization are not true, and the acts alleged in these indictments are contrary to our mission and our membership.”
Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.