UPDATE 3/23/2021 2:41PM- NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana man has pleaded not guilty to federal hate crime charges alleging he tried to kill and dismember a gay man. Monday's plea by 19-year-old Chance Seneca of Lafayette follows his indictment last week. He had already pleaded not guilty to earlier state charges arising from what prosecutors said was an attempt to kill an 18-year-old last June. The victim survived being choked and severely cut. Federal authorities say that victim was one of three men Seneca is accused of abducting after contacting them through social media and dating apps.
UPDATE 3/18/2021 2:58pm-A federal grand jury in Lafayette, Louisiana, has returned a six-count indictment charging Chance J. Seneca, 19, of Lafayette, with hate crime, kidnapping, firearm, and obstruction charges based on his attempted murder of a gay man and his over arching scheme to kidnap and murder gay men whom he met online. The indictment was announced today by Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook for the Western District of Louisiana, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pam Karlan for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and FBI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Bryan Vorndran.The indictment alleges that on June 19 and 20, 2020, Seneca attempted to kidnap one man and successfully kidnapped two other men through his use of Grindr, a dating application for gay and bisexual men. The indictment further alleges that the defendant attempted to murder one of these men because of his gender and sexual orientation, and that the defendant intended to dismember and keep parts of the victim’s body as trophies, mementos, and food. The indictment further alleges that Seneca possessed a firearm in furtherance of the hate crime, and that he tried to cover up his actions by deleting communications between himself and the victim of the attempted murder. The statutory maximum for the hatecrime, kidnapping, and firearm offenses is life imprisonment. The statutory maximum for the attempted kidnapping and obstruction offenses is 20 years. The statutory minimum for the gun charge is five years. An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The FBI is conducting the investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert C. Abendroth of the Western District of Louisiana and Trial Attorney Thomas Johnson of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — An attack on a gay Louisiana teenager is now being prosecuted as a hate crime. Police initially said they didn't see evidence of a hate crime in the attack on Holden White, who spent days in a coma and nearly a month in the hospital. Chance Seneca pleaded not guilty to attempted murder after allegedly choking White with a cord and slicing open his wrists. Prosecutors added the hate crime charge last week. An email to Seneca's attorney was not immediately returned. The two teens met on Grindr, a dating app for gay, bisexual and transgender men.