By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS)— While Philadelphia police continue to investigate last week’s attack on a gay couple in Center City, federal authorities are waiting in the wings to press their own case, if warranted.
Police were questioning people who may have been involved in the beating, and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued a statement that an assistant basketball coach at Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster was allowed to resign after being confronted about his alleged involvement in the crime.
Federal authorities say they are aware of the case. The FBI has been in touch with local authorities, but no decision has been made as of noon today.
Typically, federal authorities will allow local authorities to do their inital investigation and gather as much information as they can to determine what happened, then federal authorities would make a decision based on that evidence — whether they should begin their own investigation.
And in this case, a federal investigation could probe possible federal hate crime violations. That would be determined based on the nature of the attack and things that were said during the attack.
Hate crimes based on sexual orientation are a violation of federal law. There is no similar statue on the books in Pennsylvania.
Even if federal authorities in Philadelphia think they should get involved in the case, that’s a decision that ultimately must be made down in Washington, DC by the Justice Department.
That’s unlikely to happen soon.
Locally, police say it’s expected to be a couple of days before they’ll have a final word on the investigation here. One law enforcement official says it’s a complicated investigation. He didn’t expand on the comment, but it’s known there are a lot of people involved. Now, police are trying to get statements down on paper and trying to piece this all together.
Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Philadelpha issued a statement today deploring hate crimes and clarifying the circumstances under which the coach and Archbishop Wood High School parted ways.
The statement, atrributed to Archbishop Charles Chaput, said, “A key part of a Catholic education is forming students to respect the dignity of every human person whether we agree with them or not. What students do with that formation when they enter the adult world determines their own maturity and dignity, or their lack of it. Violence against anyone, simply because of who they are, is inexcusable and alien to what it means to be a Christian. A recent beating incident in Center City allegedly involved, in some way, a part-time coach at Archbishop Wood High School. After inquiries by school leadership, the coach was contacted regarding the matter and he resigned. Archbishop Wood’s handling of the matter was appropriate, and I support their efforts to ensure that Catholic convictions guide the behavior of their whole school community, including their staff.”