Attacker Sentenced

Georgetown hate-crime assailant given nearly three years

by Yusef Najafi
Published on February 12, 2009, 12:00am | Comments

Judge Harold L. Cushenberry Jr. on Feb. 6 sentenced Ruddad Abdulgader, originally from Sudan, to 30 months incarceration for participating in a bias-related hate crime against a gay man in Georgetown on Oct. 3.

Abdulgader, 19, was also sentenced to 150 days for possession of a prohibited weapon, which gives him a total of almost three years behind bars, followed by 36 months of supervised leave. He's also responsible for the victim's hospital bills, $458.

On Nov. 12, the Virginia resident pleaded guilty to felony assault with bias intent for his involvement in the hate crime against the 28-year-old Georgetown Medical School student, whom he hit in the face with a vodka bottle.

The attack took place in the 3400 block of M Street NW on Oct. 3. Abdulgader and his friend, Saad Elarch, a native of Morocco, ran into the victim and his companion on the C&O Canal path. According to Metropolitan Police Department Det. Kathy Jackson's testimony during a preliminary hearing in October, Elarch taunted the men with homophobic slurs before instructing Abdulgader to hit one of them. Abdulgader also pleaded guilty to one count of ''possession of a prohibited weapon.''

Before Cushenberry announced the sentencing, the victim's voice trembled as he shared with the courtroom how his life has changed since the attack.

''I honestly believe he was trying to kill me. ... I honestly believe that he should have been charged with attempted murder,'' he said.

The victim suffered a severe concussion in the attack and the impact from the bottle misaligned his jaw, he said, causing his teeth to cut into his mouth resulting in severe bleeding and the inability to eat for days. He also suffered fainting spells leaving him unable to do regular day-to-day tasks. The attack, he said, has scarred him physically and emotionally.

The victim added that the attack has left him ''terrified to walk anywhere outside'' alone or at night.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tejpal S. Chawla had asked the judge for the maximum sentencing of 48 months.

''Premeditated thought went into [the attack],'' Chawla said. ''He attempted to cause serious bodily injury. ... He hated the victim's sexual orientation and that was the primary cause, if not only cause, for the assault.''

Abdulgader also spoke, apologizing for his actions.

''I'm ashamed at myself for being in this predicament,'' he said.

Cushenberry said Abdulgader's sentencing reflects the gravity of the offense and his guilty plea.

''Because you have a prior history of violence, you have to be punished,'' Cushenberry said on why he wasn't going to accept the defense's request to implement more lenient ''Youth Act sentencing.''