Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Montana Man Bashed On His Birthday: Updated with Breaking News

Joseph, 22-year-old hate crime victim, told by Missoula, Montana authorities that his injuries warrant only a misdemeanor charge.

Missoula, Montana – Breaking News: Joseph Baken, 22, aka “Joseph,” in this widely reported news story on the web, has pleaded guilty to filing a false police report in Missoula Municipal Court, and has been sentenced to jail time and a fine.  His injuries were self-inflicted, and his gay bashing account was fabricated.  See the new post on this development here.  The Unfinished Lives Team retracts its previous story, which is posted below. 

A 22-year-old gay man was invited outside a Missoula club Saturday night, and then ridiculed, called a “faggot,” and beaten by three men for asking where he could find a gay bar to celebrate his birthday.  Missoula Police say that the young man, identified only as Joseph, did not have severe enough injuries to warrant more than a misdemeanor charge for the attack.  The LGBTQ community in Big Sky Country and around the nation has arisen in outrage over the trivialization of what thousands are now calling a hate crime attack.  In an angry comment posted on Wipe Out Homophobia’s Facebook page, a woman writes, “Nobody deserves this, especially not just because of your sexuality. Stay strong, Joseph!  Half a million of us are on your side!”

The Missoulan reports that Missoula police are not treating this case as a hate crime, despite the anti-gay slurs, the gang-type attack, and the severity of the bruises Joseph received.  According to investigators, Joseph reported the attack at 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning after managing to get back to his home. At least one Montana lawmaker is taking this attack seriously.  Representative Ellie Hill, (D)-Missoula, said sexual orientation must now be added to the state’s legal code. “It’s time, regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on,” she said. “What occurred over the weekend in Missoula evidences it.” Rep. Hill pledged to introduce a bill to that effect in the 2013 session of the state legislature.

Missoula has an anti-bias statute on the books banning discrimination against gay people, but the state does not. Critics of the police say that any assault is a greater crime than a misdemeanor, and, in this case, indications are clear that the attackers assaulted their victim expressly because he said he was gay, and was seeking a place where other gay people congregated.  KAJ18.com says authorities are soft-pedaling this crime, justifying their attitude by pointing to the time Joseph reported the assault–three hours after it occurred.  They also say that his failure to call 911 at the time of the attack supports their misdemeanor decision.

Gay activists around the nation are ginning up pressure on local and state authorities, reminding them that hate crimes by their very nature leave victims terrified and disoriented.  Joseph had to get himself to the safety of his home despite his injuries, before he felt safe enough to call the police.  Instead of supporting a young man who was only looking to have a good time on his birthday, something straight people do all the time, the Missoula police seem to think the minimum of response is allowable for a gay person in their town. Back 2 Stonewall, a widely-read LGBTQ activist web site, responds, “We do not deserve to be second-class citizens…even in Missoula f***ing Montana!”

August 7, 2012 - Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Back 2 Stonewall, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Montana, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, Wipe Out Homophobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Hold your hosses – go see the updated story on Towleroad. Turns out the dumb cluck was doing backflips on the sidewalk outside the bar and smashed his face on the pavement. He’s already been sentenced to 180 days in jail and $300 fine, but jail time was suspended. What a little jerk.

    Comment by Russ Manley | August 8, 2012

    • Yes, our breaking news story on this fabrication is now up, too.

      Comment by unfinishedlives | August 8, 2012

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