Hate Crime Prompts Heavy Penalty

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- A Pike County judge has ordered an eastern Kentucky man accused of setting fire to the apartment of three black students in 2005 to pay more than $130,000 in civil penalties.

Bobby Gibson Jr., of Shelbiana was cleared of criminal charges in 2005 after an all-white jury in found him not guilty.

However, the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights pursued the case on civil charges of violating state and federal fair housing laws by intimidating the three Pikeville College students.

Circuit Judge Steven Combs found Gibson guilty of setting fire to a mason jar in attempts of burning the home on March 12, 2005.

Quintin Collins, 22, of Wando, S.C.; Michael Shepperd, 22, of Ellensboro, N.C.; and Kurtis Ellison, 21, of Chicago, smelled smoke on Feb. 12, 2005 and discovered the fire before it got out of control. They put it out themselves and immediately moved back into campus housing at Pikeville College.

Combs, in his ruling Thursday, ordered Gibson to $80,000 in damages to the students, $40,000 to the state and $11,850 in legal fees.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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  • by Suchi Location: Brighton, England on Jun 12, 2007 at 09:24 AM
    I guess you can call it justice after a fashion, though for the victims they won't see it like that, and with good cause! I work with the victims of racist/religious crimes here in the UK and we now have parts of the country that have over the years become "no go" areas for people from minority backgrounds. For the UK this is a big thing but having read this article, I realise that in the USA "it's nothing new" and is even accepted and ignored by some people. I only hope that we do not go down that road too, but but only time will tell if we do.
  • by Shane Location: Frankfort on Jun 12, 2007 at 08:33 AM
    This is precisely why I moved out of Pike County as soon as I graduated high school. That place is a cesspool of racists and white trash. Mind you, there are a few good people that are holding it all together, but the majority are a bunch of bigoted morons. These kids did nothing to deserve what happened except be black, and I guess the mistake of trying to go to college in Pike County. I've talked to people up there about this case, and the response is ridiculous. I get things like "that's what you get when you come up here, we don't like their kind" or "I don't want my kids to be exposed to the bad things that comes with the blacks" and I'm like what the hell??? Considering the prescription drug epidemic in Eastern KY right now, I don't think your kids can be exposed to anything worse than what they're seeing now. You are letting the bigotry ingrained in your heart from when you were young control you now that you are supposed to be a sensible adult. How sad that is.
  • by Mary Location: versailles on Jun 12, 2007 at 07:57 AM
    That all white jury should be ashamed of themselves and yes I am white.
  • by Josh Location: Prestonsburg on Jun 11, 2007 at 05:53 PM
    Im glad he was fined, its 2007 and its time for people to grow up and stop acting like children. These kids are trying to better themselves by going to college and he had to try and mess with them, just because he's a white waste of space doesnt mean he has the right to attack these kids.

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