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Monroe County man charged with hate crime for alleged assault on Black teen

lee mouat jr mugshot
Monroe County

A white man now faces a federal hate crime for allegedly assaulting a Black teenager in a Monroe County state park this summer, the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Tuesday.

A federal agent’s affidavit lays out the case against Lee James Mouat, 42, detailing an encounter between him and a group of Black teens at Sterling State Park on June 6.

It says witnesses and the victim accuse Mouat of repeatedly yelling the n-word and other threatening insults at a group of Black teenagers at the park, saying among other things: “This is my beach, ni**er!” He also allegedly shouted “Black lives don’t matter!”

The affidavit says a confrontation ensued; at one point, Mouat appeared to retreat, only to reappear with a bike lock chain and hit one of the teens in the face with it.

The eighteen-year-old victim, Devin Freelon, suffered a fractured jaw and lost several teeth.

Mouat is now charged with willfully causing bodily injury to Freelon, because of his “actual or perceived race and color.”

“The allegations in this case, which essentially amount to violent and blatant racism, are deeply offensive to the values we hold in Michigan,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Matthew Schneider said in a statement. “We will prosecute this case with strength and vigor, and we will do everything we can to seek justice for the innocent victim of this racist hate crime.” 

The federal hate crime charge comes on top of state charges Mouat faces in Monroe County for the same alleged assault. At a June hearing, a judge found that Mouat was indigent and he was given a court-provided attorney. Mouat has a final pre-trial hearing in that case later this month.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.