Woman Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime in Beating of Disabled Teen Live on Facebook

Megan Crepeau, Chicago Tribune, December 8, 2017

A Chicago woman who live-streamed video of the racially charged beating of a teen with mental disabilities pleaded guilty Friday to a hate crime and was sentenced to four years of probation.

Calling the incident “horrific,” Cook County Circuit Judge William Hooks banned Covington from social media over the four years, prohibited her from contact with two of her co-defendants and ordered her to do 200 hours of community service.

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Hooks said he hoped the strict terms of probation would put Covington on a more productive life path, but he warned she would face prison time if she violated any of the restrictions.

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Facebook Live video posted on Jan. 3, 2017, shows the verbal and physical attack of a mentally disabled man. The Chicago Tribune edited this video to protect the victim’s identity and for time.

The video, which sparked national outrage, focuses often on Covington’s face. She smokes what appears to be a blunt — a cigar stuffed with marijuana — while narrating some of the action.

Three others were charged in the incident: alleged ringleader Jordan Hill, 19, as well as Tesfaye Cooper, 19, and Covington’s sister, Tanishia, 25. Their cases are still pending.

The video, posted in January, shows the four — who are all African-American — cutting the 18-year-old white victim’s scalp with a knife, punching and kicking him and laughing as he was bound and gagged in an apartment on Chicago’s West Side.

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Among the abuse seen on the Facebook video, prosecutors have said, is one of the women laughing as she punches the teen; a male foot on the victim’s head; the teen groaning in pain as a male pulls a cord around his neck; and the victim screaming in fear when a male approaches with a knife, saying, “Should I shank his a–?”

At one point, prosecutors said, Hill and Cooper ordered the victim into a bathroom and forced him to drink water from the toilet.

The teen was bound and gagged, a sock placed in his mouth and his lips taped shut. With the knife, Hill then cut a chunk of the victim’s hair, cutting his head, and stabbed him in the left forearm, prosecutors have said.

The victim, who prosecutors said has schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, was able to flee the building when the four co-defendants left the apartment to confront neighbors who had complained about the noise, prosecutors have said.

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