Orthodox Jewish Man Stands Trial For Assault That Blinded Gay Fashion Student

Taj Patterson

The trial began this week for an Orthodox Jewish man who prosecutors believe was part of a group who beat and blinded a gay man in 2013. Mayer Herskovic is facing a bench trial, the New York Daily News reports, and authorities believe a number of key pieces of evidence will convict him.

On December 1, 2013, African-American fashion student Taj Patterson was intoxicated and walking home along Flushing Avenue. According to DNA Info, Assistant District Attorney Tim Gough admitted in court that security patrol in the Hasidic neighborhood had “unfounded” information that Patterson may have been vandalizing cars. Within a short time, 15 to 20 men began to chase Patterson, who tried to seek help from someone in a passing car. The driver refused to open their door and sped off, a decision which nearly cost Patterson his life.

According to prosecutors, the gang of men caught up to Patterson and began to beat, stomp, and kick him. Two witnesses to the attack are set to testify this week. Although the witnesses filmed the incident, prosecutors say no one stopped to help. The eyewitness testimony, along with one of Patterson’s old sneakers and security footage, are among the prosecution’s evidence in the case. The New York Daily News says authorities believe Herskovic ripped Patterson’s Nike shoes off and threw them onto a roof. After witnesses arrived and began taking photos, the violent mob dispersed.

Over the past three years, Patterson has undergone three surgeries and is reportedly blind in one eye. He has said that he believes he was attacked for being gay, and is expected to testify this week. Four other defendants either plead guilty to reduced charges or saw their charges dropped. If Herskovic is convicted of the most significant charge, he faces a sentence of up to 25 years in prison.

Read more:

DNA Info

New York Daily News

Photo: Police handout

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