Baltimore County - The teen-age girl charged in the video-taped beating of a transgender woman inside a McDonald's in Baltimore County will face a hate crime charge.
A 14-year-old girl remains charged as a juvenile as well.
The beating lasted more than three minutes -- all caught on a cell phone camera.
The teen suspects can be seen repeatedly punching and kicking Chrissy Polis, a transgender woman who lives in Rosedale.
On May 6th, Polis told ABC-2 News the teens beat her because she is transgender. "It was a hate crime," she said. "It really was. Because of my gender and who I am now. People are not accepting of what people have become in today's society."
And now members of a Baltimore County grand jury have agreed. The older suspect, Teonna Brown, is charged with assault and a hate crime. The head of the group Equality Maryland -- which advocates for the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender community -- says it's about time.
"In our view what happened that day was a hate crime because it does terrorize an entire community based on what happened, not just a single individual although what happened to Ms. Polis was absolutely awful," said Lynne Bowman, the interim director of Equality Maryland.
Teonna Brown's attorney disagrees. He declined to speak on camera, but told ABC-2 news, "My client maintains her innocence. Anything that happened at the restaurant on her part was entirely in self-defense. She is a very nice young woman who lives with her mother. She is not the person the press is making her out to be. This was not a hate crime. It has nothing to do with the concept of a hate crime."
Equality Maryland believes it was -- and hopes the incident will lead not only to convictions for Teonna Brown and the younger teen, but also a better understanding of the challenges facing people like Chrissy Polis.
"People are angry, they are upset, they're hurt and they're fearful by what happened to Ms. Polis" Bowman said. "And I think you'll see the community come together in a way that hasn't happened before in Maryland to push for a safer environment to push for education on gender identify issues."
The maximum sentence for the assault charge Teonna Brown faces is 25 years in prison. The hate crime could add ten years to that.
The state's attorney's office says no one other than Brown and the younger juvenile will be charged in the case.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
More Baltimore County News