A Jackson County teen is seeking to file a perjury charge against a gay classmate who said the teen attacked her because of her sexual orientation.
The attorney for Corinne Schwab made the request in a letter filed in court Monday.
The attorney, James Baechtold, asked that Schwab be allowed to meet with Jackson County Attorney George T. Hays, or someone in his office, to swear out a private-party complaint against Cheyenne Williams.
A private-party complaint is a criminal charge a person can file by making a sworn allegation, without a police investigation.
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It is the same mechanism Williams used to file charges of attempted murder and kidnapping in April against Schwab and Ashley Sams, both 18, and a 17-year-old girl whose name was not released.
Hays signed that complaint.
Ordinarily, a person can go to the county attorney's office and ask to make such a complaint without first seeking permission.
However, Baechtold said he didn't know if that would be possible in this case. Hays is prosecuting Schwab, and Schwab is asking to file a criminal charge against the main prosecution witness.
Baechtold asked Hays to step aside if he feels he has a conflict in the case. Schwab could then meet with a special prosecutor about filing a perjury charge.
Baechtold said he wanted to make a formal request that Schwab be allowed to file a charge against Williams — instead of just showing up at Hays' office — in order to make an official record of the issue.
Schwab wants to file a complaint charging Williams with either first-degree perjury, a felony, or false swearing, a misdemeanor.
"The motivation here is somebody shouldn't face conviction based on somebody that's untruthful," Baechtold said.
Sams also will seek to charge Williams, said Sams' attorney, Sharon Allen Gay.
If Schwab is not allowed to file charges through a private complaint, she may ask to testify to the grand jury, Baechtold said.
Williams' mother, Dee Johnson, declined to comment on Schwab's letter.
The request is the latest twist in a case that generated widespread media coverage because of the allegation that Williams was the victim of a hate crime.
Williams, 18, testified that on April 16, Schwab, Sams and the 17-year-old took her to Flat Lick Falls, forced her to walk to a spot near a cliff, choked her with a chain and hit her with sticks.
Sams picked up a heavy rock and said she would crush Williams' head with it after the others pushed her over the cliff, Williams testified.
Williams is openly gay. The other teens — her longtime friends — attacked her because of her sexuality, Williams said.
But attorneys for Schwab, Sams and the juvenile deny the three committed a crime.
The attack was staged — apparently to make a video — with Williams a willing participant, defense attorneys said.
Williams videotaped part of the alleged attack on her cell phone. That tape is a key piece of evidence.
A state police detective who investigated after Williams filed charges said she laughed through much of the video.
After hearing testimony and viewing the cell-phone video, District Judge Henria Bailey-Lewis reduced the charges against Sams and Schwab to fourth-degree assault and menacing.
The two are scheduled for trial Aug. 19.
In the letter filed Monday, Baechtold said it is clear Williams lied during her testimony about the alleged attack.
Baechtold also said he believes Williams and others misled Hays, the county attorney, when he accepted the private-party criminal complaint on charges of attempted murder and kidnapping.
Jordan Palmer, president of the Kentucky Equality Federation, said the potential of a perjury charge against Williams is not worrisome.
"It's a scare tactic," he said.
The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex advocacy organization has been supporting Williams and has asked the FBI to investigate the case.