- Teenagers in New Castle County, Delaware, have been charged with felony hate crimes
- Charges relate to online videos of the beating of a mentally disabled man
- Videos went viral with the hashtags #TheBullyProject and #JusiceForCoran
Three Delaware teenagers charged earlier this month after being accused of beating a mentally disabled man are now charged with a hate crime.
The state's prosecutor filed the additional, weightier charges on Monday, according to a press release.
"It is our responsibility to protect people who cannot protect themselves," Attorney General Beau Biden said in the release. "Targeting and assaulting a vulnerable victim is especially egregious and those who do so face significant consequences under the law. Every parent needs to talk with their children about this incident and how to prevent these types of crimes."
In addition to the hate crime, the teenage boys also face further felony charges, including crime against a vulnerable adult and abuse of an impaired adult, according to the press release.
One 14-year-old boy from Newark, Delaware, turned himself in and two other teenagers were first arrested earlier this month after videos of the assault went viral on social media.
The three teens were initially charged with misdemeanors. Because of their age, the boys' names are not being made public.
The beatings occurred several weeks ago but more recently angered viewers across the nation after videos of the incidents were posted on social media with the hashtags #JusticeForCoran and #TheBullyProject.
In one video, the man, who police said is 26 years old and suffers from a neurodevelopmental disorder, is chased around the yard of an apartment complex as he yells, "Leave me alone." A teenage boy in shorts and a T-shirt body-slams him to the ground, then punches and stomps the man.
The man's family told CNN affiliate KYW that he suffers from Williams syndrome and that he takes his little sister to the bus stop.
In a second video, shot in a wooded area, the man is again body-slammed and punched while lying on the ground. A girl in the crowd says, "You guys are mean to him." The man stands and other boys punch and push him to the ground.
As the man lies crying in the weeds, a boy jumps in front of the camera and mimics the question the man kept asking: "What I do? What I do?"
"It's more than disgusting. There's no words to describe what they did," the victim's stepmother told KYW.
She said he trusted the group of teens and believed they were his friends, and now he is suffering emotionally and physically.