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Md. man charged with targeting gays for assault in Meridian Hill Park

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A 48-year-old man who has lived in recent years in Oxon Hill, Md. and Norfolk, Va., was arrested in Norfolk on July 14 for allegedly assaulting five men he believed to be gay by spraying them in the face with pepper spray between 2018 and 2021 in D.C.’s Meridian Hill Park, which is also known as Malcolm X Park.

The arrest of Michael Thomas Pruden came two weeks after federal prosecutors unsealed a grand jury indictment handed down on June 29 charging Pruden with five counts of assault on federal land, one count of impersonating a federal officer, and a hate crime sentencing enhancement alleging that he assaulted four of the men because of their perceived sexual orientation. “After nightfall, Meridian Hill Park was informally known in the Washington, D.C.

community to be a meeting location for men seeking to engage in consensual sexual encounters with other men,” the indictment by the U.S.

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