You too can be beaten for coming to the aid of a gay person; thankfully Kentucky is taking this bashing attack seriously. (

The trial of a Kentucky man charged in the baseball bat beating of an Ohio National Guardsman will begin this week in Newport.

Matthew Ashcraft, 19, was attacked after he came to the defense of a gay man who was being beaten outside a Newport bar last June.

Ashcraft, who is not gay, was with two gay friends on their way to Woolly’s, an LGBT friendly bar. As they approached the club they saw Leon Hughes being harassed outside. When Ashcraft intervened, the man who was assaulting Hughes left, then returned with a baseball bat and beat Ashcraft unconscious prosecutors said.

Ashcraft was struck on the back of his skull with the bat. As he slumped to the ground witnesses shielded Ashcraft from receiving more blows by putting their own bodies at risk until police arrived. Ashcraft was rushed to University Hospital in Cincinnati July 1, where he was treated for skull fractures, cranial bleeding and a blood clot on his brain.

Steven Ard, 38, is charged with assault. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

In an unusual move both Commonwealth Attorney Jack Porter and Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Anthony Bracke will prosecute the case.

“Part of it is the severity of the case,” Bracke told the Cincinnati Post. “All individuals who commit violent assaults need to be prosecuted appropriately, whatever reason they may have. However, individuals who target victims because of race, gender, or sexual orientation need to be looked at even more closely.”

Kentucky has no specific hate-crime legislation, but Bracke said that if Ard is convicted he may bring up the reason for the assault if they argue for a stiffer sentence.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding