OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (AP) — A judge has dismissed a hate crime charge against a man accused of torching a bench that a northern New York church had painted in rainbow colors to show its support for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
The Ogdensburg City Court judge tossed the charge against 47-year-old Francis Solis of Ogdensburg because a prosecutor from the St. Lawrence County District Attorney's Office wasn't present at his preliminary hearing Monday morning.
Solis was charged last week with arson and criminal mischief as a hate crime. Authorities say on Sept. 7 he set fire to the rainbow-colored bench in front of the First Presbyterian Church.
District Attorney Mary Rain says the judge made a mistake because her office had notified the court that she wouldn't conduct a preliminary hearing and intended to present the case to a grand jury.