CLINTON, LA (WAFB) - A Clinton, LA man has been indicted by a grand jury after being charged with a hate crime and a misdemeanor for allegedly tugging at the pants of a 12-year-old boy inside a gas station and making racially charged remarks on July 25, 2015.
Ronnie Barnes, 54, now faces three charges: cruelty to a juvenile, simple battery and a hate crime. The charge of cruelty to a juvenile carries a sentence of up to 10 years if convicted. Both the simple battery and hate crime charges carry a sentence of up to six months if convicted.
According to the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office, the 12-year-old went inside the Good To Go convenience store on Hwy. 67 in Clinton around 5:40 p.m. to pay for gas for his grandmother when 54-year-old Ronnie Barnes approached him and asked him if he was a girl.
While asking the child if he was a girl, deputies said Barnes pulled on the child's pants, causing them to come down four or five inches. Deputies said it is not believed any part of the child's body was exposed.
Surveillance video from the convenience store also showed Barnes backing the boy into a shelf before hitting him on the back of the head. Barnes is accused of calling the child the "N" word and making other racially charged remarks following the battery.
Barnes was initially issued a summons for simple battery. Investigators conducted follow up interviews with witnesses and reviewed the case with the District Attorney's Office to determine that the hate crime charge was applicable.
Barnes was arrested on July 28, 2015 and released the same day after posting a $10,000 bond.
A motions hearing has been set for October 13, 2015. A trial date has been set for December 14, 2015.