US: Army veteran avoids prison sentence after brutal attack on gay couple

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

An Army veteran who beat a gay couple at a Pride parade in Austin, Texas will not face a prison sentence.

Lambert Borgardt was sentenced this week over a 2012 attack on Andrew Oppleman and Nick Soret. Mr Oppleman lost five teeth in the attack, while  Mr Soret was left with a fractured nose.

The men were targeted by Borgardt during the city’s Pride parade – but KXAN reports a grand jury declined to charge him with a hate crime. He instead pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault.

A judge sentenced Borgardt to 10 years deferred adjudication (probation), with 200 hours of community service – but he will serve no prison time unless he re-offends.

The 30-year-old had apologised to his victims, saying: “I apologize from the bottom of my heart, and I’ll do whatever it takes, whatever I can, whatever can work to pay you guys back for that.”

However, Mr Oppleman said: “I feel like it was an apology for the situation he’s in rather than a direct apology for what he did and why he did it.”

Borgardt’s attorney Bill Hines said: “We’re pleased that the judge did the difficult work of balancing the really serious injuries with the incredible lifetime of honour and service [Borgardt] had in the military.”

There is still a charge pending against Borgardt, who could see his sentence increased over the attack.