Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Palm Springs Parents Bash Gay Couple In Front of Their Child

Russell Bates and Abigail Sheehy, alleged gay bashers

Palm Springs, California – A dispute over a parking space resulted in young parents beating the teeth out of the mouth of a gay couple–all done in front of the parents’ small child.  Russell Bates, 24, and Abigail Sheehy, 19, both white, took their rage out on an older gay male couple in what police are calling “a brutal attack that should be prosecuted as a hate crime,” according to the Desert Sun. The gay men, 45 and 63 respectively, business owners at a popular strip of flower and yogurt shops, asked the straight couple with a young child to move their parked car from a space clearly reserved for business patrons at about 4:20 p.m. on Saturday, May 21. Bates and Sheehy refused.  The gay couple took their pictures, which sparked the dispute into an all-out attack, taking place in full view of the four-year-old boy.  Shouting anti-gay slurs at the gay men, the straight couple thrashed the couple so violently with closed fists that the teeth of one of the victims were knocked out of his head, and his jaw was broken.  Both victims were taken to a local hospital to be treated for their injuries.  They have since been released to recuperate at home. The assailants fled the scene, only to be apprehended the next day at a public park. Bates and Sheehy have been charged with three felony counts each, including hate crimes charges. They lost custody of their son, who has been remanded to Child Protective Services.  Sheehy was released on bail later in the week. Bates, who has a previous criminal record, is being held on $50,000 bond for violating his parole agreement.  The offending couple are due to appear in court on June 6.  According to local residents, Riverside County has a gay-friendly reputation, making this attack unusual.  Darron Dahle, long-time citizen of Palm Springs, told the Desert Sun, “I’m just outraged that something like this is still happening. This is something that happened 35 years ago. It still happens in this town in daylight? That’s really the most outrageous part.” It is customary for the victims of a hate crime to remain unidentified for their own protection until the trial date, which has yet to be set.

June 4, 2011 - Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, California, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. Two things: first, why does the article mention the race of the attackers? Why does that matter? Would you point out their race if they were both black? I don’t understand what race has to do with this.

    Second, you say that it’s customary for victims to remain nameless, yet you give their ages and occupations. How many older gay couples own a strip mall in Palm Springs?

    Comment by Alex | June 4, 2011

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