LGBTQ Agenda: Feds accuse man of hate crime in trying to run over Idaho women

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday January 24, 2023
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The U.S. Department of Justice has filed federal hate crime charges against a man in Idaho after he allegedly tried to run over two women and used a homophobic slur. Photo: DOJ
The U.S. Department of Justice has filed federal hate crime charges against a man in Idaho after he allegedly tried to run over two women and used a homophobic slur. Photo: DOJ

A grand jury in Boise, Idaho indicted a man on federal hate crimes charges for allegedly trying to run over two women after yelling homophobic slurs.

Matthew Alan Lehigh, 31, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if convicted, according to a news release from the United States Department of Justice.

"The indictment alleges that on October 12, 2022, Matthew Alan Lehigh, 31, attempted to cause bodily injury to two people in Boise by driving his car at them," the release stated. "This assault, the indictment alleges, was motivated by the actual and perceived sexual orientation of the victims. Boise Police apprehended Lehigh, and the Ada County Prosecuting Attorney's Office filed state charges against Lehigh."

According to KTVB-TV one of the alleged victims, Vegas Shegrud, who is pansexual, said, "He could've killed us. It could get so much worse. I'm grateful it didn't."

Shegrud and her friend were wrapping up a Halloween-themed photo shoot at Kathryn Albertson Park that day, the station reported, when she was opening her car, parked by a curb.

At that point, Lehigh yelled a slur to Shegrud, and said he was going to run her over, she said.

Then Lehigh sped up, and hit her car near where she was standing, which almost caused the car to fall on her friend, according to the report. Lehigh then struck her car a second time before speeding away.

Lehigh was later arrested. According to Boise police, he had a YouTube channel in which he threatened to kill transgender people. He'd been on authorities' radar already after a report he hit someone while also using a homophobic slur.

An attorney for Lehigh could not be immediately identified as none was listed on court records.

The case was investigated by Boise police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Salt Lake City Field Office. It will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Horwitz for the District of Idaho and trial attorney Alec Ward of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division's Criminal Section.

Lehigh was also charged with state crimes by the Ada County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, including burning the rainbow flag of a gay couple in Boise. Lehigh could not be charged with hate crimes under Idaho laws, however, because the Gem State does not recognize sexual orientation as a protected class.

It is, however, protected under federal law due to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was signed by President Barack Obama in 2009.

LGBTQ Agenda is an online column that appears weekly. Got a tip on queer news? Contact John Ferrannini at [email protected]

The State of California offers help for victims or witnesses to a hate crime or hate incident. This resource is supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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