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Defendants in Piedmont Park gay bashing plead guilty

Rev. Josh Noblitt

Three of the men accused of robbing and violently beating openly gay pastor Josh Noblitt and his friend in Piedmont Park more than a year ago expressed remorse on Tuesday in Fulton Superior Court as they pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

Jarvis Johnson, 21; Sam Johnson, 19; and Benjamin Johnson, 17, admitted their guilt in the attack on Noblitt and his friend, Trent Williams, on July 2, 2010, as the two were enjoying an evening picnic. The three were part of a group of six young men — the youngest was 13 at the time of the crime — arrested in the attack. According to police reports and Noblitt, three of the suspects walked up to them and asked, “Are y’all gay? Two men laying on a blanket. We ought to beat y’all for that.”

The three youths walked off and returned later with a stick and got into a fight with Noblitt and Williams. During the fight, Noblitt called police from his cell phone. At the same time one of the three youths called for reinforcements. Several more teens showed up on the scene and one pulled a gun on Noblitt, held it to his head, and demanded their money.

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AIDS vigil a ‘crucial part’ of Atlanta Pride

Nothing makes one appreciate the good times more than remembering the difficult trials that have been endured. While Atlanta Pride has evolved into a celebratory and gleeful event, the annual Pride AIDS vigil ...
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Teens arrested in anti-gay crime charged as adults

Rev. Josh Noblitt and APD LGBT liaison Patricia Powell

The six male teens charged with felony armed robbery in the bias crime against a gay pastor and his friend will be charged as adults and face a bond hearing Aug. 19.

The teens, ages 13 through 19, have been indicted for felony armed robbery and were arraigned Aug. 2 in Fulton Superior Court when the bond hearing was set.

Those charged are Sam Johnson, 17; Benjamin Johnson, 16; and Daequan Lewis, 15, who are all listed as living at the same residence in Stone Mountain. Also charged is Jarvis Johnson, 19, of Parkway Drive in Atlanta. Sam Johnson was identified by APD as the gunman. Atlanta Police reports identified Jamal Bryant, 13, and Tyrone Smith, 16, as two other suspects who are also charged as adults.

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Charges against teens in anti-gay bias crime spark community debate

The six teens charged with a bias-crime attack on a gay Atlanta pastor at Piedmont Park will be tried as adults. Four of the teens are minors. The youngest is 13 years old.

Several readers have reached out to us to express their views on the charges. Some readers, like Twitter user @jcstarr are happy with the decision to charge the teens as adults. “GOOD!!! I hope the judge throws the book at them,” he wrote via Twitter.

Several of our Facebook fans supported the charges, as well.

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Gay men report being robbed at gunpoint in Piedmont Park

Rev. Josh Noblitt of Saint Mark United Methodist Church and his partner say they were robbed at gunpoint Friday in Piedmont Park by a group of young men after being asked if they were gay.

Noblitt said he and his partner, Trent, were having a picnic dinner on the grassy area on 10th Street at about 9:45 p.m. on July 2 when three young men approached them.

“They walked up directly to us and asked, ‘Are y’all gay? Two men laying on a blanket. We ought to beat y’all for that,’” Noblitt said.