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Three women plead not guilty in T attack

MBTA Transit Police

Felicia Stroud (above) was charged in Sunday’s attack, along with Lydia Sanford and Erika Stroud. The women are charged with assault and battery for purpose of intimidation, a civil rights offense. All three pleaded not guilty.

The lawyers for three Boston women who allegedly attacked a man Sunday evening in the Forest Hills MBTA station are disputing prosecutors’ assertions that their clients were motivated by homophobic rage, saying the three women are themselves lesbians.

MBTA Transit Police

Erika Stroud

“My client has grown up in a climate of acceptance, and with her being a lesbian, well it’s really hard to believe she would fight someone because she takes issue with their sexual identification,’’ said C. Harold Krasnow, who represents Felicia Stroud, 18, a security worker at the South Bay shopping center.

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Jude Kostas, lawyer for Felicia Stroud’s 21-year-old sister, Erica Stroud, also denied prosecutor’s charges.

“She’s openly gay; for this to be an allegation of a hate crime, it has no merit,’’ he said.

The sisters and Lydia Sanford, 20, were each charged yesterday afternoon in West Roxbury District Court with assault and battery for purpose of intimidation, a civil rights offense. All three pleaded not guilty.

MBTA Transit Police

Lydia Sanford

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Sanford is Erica Stroud’s domestic partner. Felicia Stroud’s domestic partner, Kessia Polynice, was also present during the alleged attack but does not face any charges.

Sanford was laid off from a job at Home Depot a day after the altercation, according to her lawyer, Helene Tomlinson, but it was unclear yesterday whether that was connected to the altercation. Erica Stroud expects to start a job with Verizon on Monday, Kostas said.

The charges against the three women stem from an altercation at 6:40 p.m Sunday inside the Forest Hills station, which started when the three women crossed paths with the unidentified man on the steps leading to a lobby area.

The man said the women viciously attacked him, leaving him with a broken nose and contusions, after his backpack accidentally brushed against Felicia Stroud as they passed on the stairs, according to an MBTA police report.

The alleged victim, who was walking with his partner, said Stroud immediately began yelling homophobic slurs and that the three women followed him to the main mezzanine of the upper lobby, where all three started punching and kicking him.

According to the MBTA police report, the alleged victim told authorities the women continued yelling homosexual slurs during their attack.

But the women contend the man was the aggressor and that he hurled racial slurs at them before enticing the women to a fight, according to the report. All three women are black; the man’s racial identity was not made known yesterday.

Felicia Stroud told officers during an interview that the man bumped her and she said “excuse you,’’ the report said. The man then verbally attacked her, she said, according to the report.

She said she followed the man and confronted him, but he “started taking off his stuff like he wanted to fight me,’’ according to the report.

Stroud allegedly admitted she punched the man at least a dozen times and that her sister and Sanford were also involved in the struggle, which was captured by a surveillance video, the report said.

Bail was set at $100 for Felicia Stroud and $500 each for Erica Stroud and Sanford. All three were ordered to stay away from the victim and only use the station to commute to and from work.

Lindsey Weinstein, Suffolk assistant district attorney, said an application for additional charges against the three women had been filed at the court. Prosecutors are also seeking to charge each woman with a count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a shod foot.

A man who described himself as a friend of the victim said on the steps of the courthouse yesterday that the victim is not the kind of person who picks fights or uses abusive language.

“I think it’s sick what those girls did to him; they had no reason to do that,’’ said the victim’s supporter, who requested that only his first name, Eric, be published.

“It doesn’t matter what he is . . . he didn’t ask for it, he didn’t deserve what happened.’’

Carolyn Euell, mother of the Strouds, attended the arraignment. She also said that her daughters were gay and that she was shocked at the charges.

“I taught them to respect people, and they shouldn’t have any problem with that,’’ she said.

“My daughters are not hateful people. They love everyone and would never beat a person up based on their color or being gay.’’

Martin Finucane contributed to this report. Brian R. Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com
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