In September, Brice Johnson starting talking to Arron Keahey on MeetMe.com, a networking and dating app. Keahey's profile said he was looking for other men. Johnson, a 19-year-old from Springtown (a half hour's drive northwest of Fort Worth) indicated that he was straight in his own profile, but nonetheless started flirting with Keahey, inviting him over and giving him his cell phone number, federal prosecutors say.
The talked about sex in text messages. Keahey naturally assumed Johnson was gay or bisexual and headed over to Johnson's home.
As soon as Keahey showed up, he said it was immediately clear something was wrong.
"He started getting all frustrated and talking all angrily," Keahey told WFAA in September. "I don't remember anything after that."
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Police say Johnson severely beat Keahey, then bound him by his hands and put him in the trunk of his car. He drove Keahey to the hospital after friends threatened to call the cops if he didn't, according to a criminal complaint.
A federal grand jury has decided to indict Johnson on charges that he targeted Keahey based on his sexual orientation, the U.S. Attorney's office announced yesterday. In addition to the hate crime, Johnson is also being charged with kidnapping. If the grand jury finds him guilty, Johnson could face life in prison.
Keahey spent 10 days in the hospital.
Johnson had later told police that he didn't think the sexual messages he and Keahey exchanged on MeetMe were "for real." He also said Keahey grabbed his crotch, though the victim denied ever touching him.