Black man assaulted at Indiana lake faces criminal charges

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INDIANAPOLIS – A Black man who said a group of White men assaulted him and threatened to “get a noose” at a southern Indiana lake is facing criminal charges more than a year after the confrontation that earlier led to charges against two of the alleged attackers.

Vauhxx Booker, a local civil rights activist and member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, was charged with misdemeanor trespass and felony battery for his involvement in last year’s Fourth of July incident at Lake Monroe, according to court documents filed Friday by a special prosecutor in the case.

Vauhxx Booker, a local civil rights activist and member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, called the decision an "outrageous act of punitive retaliation and prosecutorial vindictiveness."

Booker condemned the decision, calling it an “outrageous act of punitive retaliation and prosecutorial vindictiveness.”

“This incident has been a continual case of a victim being re-victimized by the system,” Booker’s legal team said in statement Monday. “It is the victim in this assault – Vauhxx Booker — who is being made to pay for having stood his ground against malicious racist name-calling, physical assault, and threats against his life.”

The alleged assault gained national attention last summer when Booker said he called 911 after five men assaulted him and pinned him to a tree at the lake just south of Bloomington. He said the men accused him of trespassing on private property and, after he tried to apologize, the situation got physical.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which responded to the reported assault, recommended charges against everyone involved.

Monroe County prosecutors only charged two White men, however. Sean Purdy faces charges of felony criminal confinement, battery resulting in moderate bodily injury and intimidation. Jerry Cox II was charged with felony criminal confinement and battery resulting in moderate bodily injury, as well as two misdemeanors.

Cox and Purdy claimed Booker was trespassing and denied the allegations regarding a noose. Both maintain that Booker threatened them first, and their lawyers have said the two men are victims of a “smear campaign.” The case against Cox and Purdy is still pending, awaiting a trial date.

Monroe County Prosecutor Erika Oliphant recused herself from the case in response to public concern about whether she was impartial.

The charges against Booker, filed in Monroe Circuit Court by special prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp, are the same recommended by IDNR investigators last summer. An initial hearing is set for Sept. 14.

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