Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Lesbian Savagely Beaten Unconscious Defending Girlfriend’s Bullied Son

Sondra Scarber, lesbian parent, beaten unconscious by a homophobic father for speaking up for her girlfriend's child.

Sondra Scarber, lesbian parent, beaten unconscious by a homophobic father for speaking up for her girlfriend’s child. [WFAA image].

Mesquite, Texas – A lesbian who spoke up to stop school playground bullies from harassing her girlfriend’s 4-year-old son was attacked for her sexual orientation by an enraged man February 17.  When Sondra Scarber, 27, spoke to the father of a boy who was bullying her lover’s little boy, the man recognized that she was a lesbian.  He assaulted her, shouting homophobic insults, so quickly and savagely that Scarber told WFAA she did not even have time to take her hands out of her pockets to defend herself from his blows.

Scarber’s girlfriend, Hillary Causey, recalled for WFAA the horror of watching her love thrashed mercilessly.  The couple, who have been known each other since childhood, and who have been a couple for the past three years, took their child Jaxon to Seaborn Elementary School’s playground around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 17, for an outing. When other boys began pushing and shoving the little boy, whom the couple are rearing together, Scarber spoke to a father of one of the harassing boys: “Sondra said, ‘Can you please keep your hands off of him, he’s only four,’” Causey said.  Only when the man realized that the woman speaking out for her child was a lesbian, he went ballistic, shouting epithets and striking Scarber unconscious.  As the Dallas Voice reports, the assailant ignored Scarber’s pleas: “All she kept saying,” Causey recalled, was, “‘I’m a female. I’m a female.’ She never even had time to take her hands out of pockets to try and block herself.”  

Scarber fell unconscious, with a broken jaw and multiple bruises.  Emergency surgery had to repair her jaw with a metal plate, and she faces months of rehabilitation and recovery from her physical injuries, not to mention her psychological wounds from the attack.  The assailant is still at large.

Causey and Scarber have called on the police to investigate the attack as a hate crime, since the attacker flew into a rage about the couple’s sexual orientation.  The Mesquite Police Department, who say that they want to apprehend the suspect, refuse to designate the case as an anti-gay hate crime.  Local gay advocacy groups are pushing for the Mesquite authorities to press the case as a hate crime. Daniel Cates, organizer for the Dallas Chapter of GetEqual, has called for the community to call the Mesquite Police Department “until the phone rings off the wall” to protest the downplaying of the crime.  The Resource Center of Dallas, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ service centers, issued this statement to the press, which we quote in full:

“Resource Center Dallas denounces the brutal attack of Sondra Scarber at the hands of a man who assaulted her based on her sexual orientation, as first reported February 28 by WFAA-TV (Channel 8). As reported, the circumstances of this case indicate a hate-motivated crime, and that should dissuade the Mesquite Police Department from lessening the severity of any potential criminal charges.

The incident is another example in which words and thoughts lead to destructive actions against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. The reported violence included anti-gay slurs, followed by violent acts against a lesbian. Had Sondra’s partner not been present, her injuries could have been far more severe.

Anti-gay violence is a serious public health issue.  According to the FBI’s 2011 Hate Crime Report—the most recent available—49 of the 152 hate crimes committed in Texas that year were motivated by anti-gay bias. Nationally, nearly 21 percent of the 6,222 hate crimes committed that same year were motivated by sexual orientation.

The Center calls on the Mesquite Police Department and Chief Derek Rodhe to thoroughly investigate and swiftly arrest the suspects responsible. As leaders in the LGBT community, Resource Center Dallas will be closely monitoring the situation to ensure that justice is carried out.”

Scarber told WFAA that her face is so bruised and swollen, and her jaw so tightly wired shut, that she cannot do much of anything for herself.  “It’s hard for me to stay strong when I see myself in the mirror,” she said. She and Causey have the comfort that their little boy was spared from the bullying that nearly hurt him.  And, they have each other. They are grateful that Scarber is alive.

March 1, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Bullying in schools, gay bashing, GET EQUAL Texas, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Resource Center of Dallas, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Young Alabama Lesbian Savagely Attacked, Allegedly By Girlfriend’s Teenage Brother

Mallory Owens was beaten almost beyond recognition by her girlfriend’s teen brother on Thanksgiving Day [Facebook images].

Mobile, Alabama – A 23-year-old lesbian was brutally attacked by the brother of her lover on Thanksgiving Day.  According to several reports, Mallory Godwin Owens suffered smashed bones, multiple fractures of the skull, and her face was beaten virtually beyond recognition by 18-year-old Travis Monroe Hawkins Jr.  The victim, girlfriends with Travis’s sister Ally for over year according to family friends, was blindsided by her assailant at the family’s Thanksgiving dinner just as she was leaving the home.  Avery Godwin, Mallory’s sister, told AL.com that Travis hit her sister so hard that she suffered brain bleeding, and needed to have metal plates surgically implanted beneath her eyes to support her facial bones.

Hawkins was arrested for the crime by Mobile Police and charged with second-degree assault on Sunday while his victim was still recovering from emergency surgery at the University of South Alabama Medical Center.  Godwin commented on the charges against her sister’s assailant to the press, saying, “That charge shouldn’t be there. He should’ve been charged with attempted murder.” As News 5 reports, other members of Mallory’s family are also calling for stiffer charges to be leveled against Hawkins, who had a previous altercation with the victim.  In addition to a charge of murder, the Owens family contends that Hawkins, who loudly disapproved of his sister’s relationship with a lesbian, committed a hate crime during the attack and is now a free man after being bonded out of custody the same day he was arrested.

Mallory, who is to be released from the hospital on Monday, will likely need reconstructive surgery to repair the extensive damage to her face and skull, expensive procedures which the family cannot pay for by themselves. Local and Facebook efforts to raise money to defray her medical costs are underway. An account has been opened in her name at Regions Bank, and donations may be made to any branch worldwide.  Justice Today-For Mallory, a Facebook group established by Pensacola, Florida motel owner Sonia Mason, features up to date posts on Mallory’s continuing struggle to heal. The story of the brutal hate crime assault against Mallory is going viral around the World Wide Web.

Young Hawkins was already well known to local law enforcement authorities, according to AL.com.  His father, Travis Monroe Hawkins Sr., 40-years-of-age, was arrested and charged with shooting Travis Jr. in the chest during an altercation in January 2011.  Avery Godwin says Travis Jr. is intent on further violence against her sister. Godwin is quoted in “The Time of My Life” blog as alleging that young Hawkins called to threaten Godwin since the Thanksgiving assault, and to put the family on notice “that he would finish what he started last night [the night after the attack] with Mallory.”  

As of this writing, law enforcement authorities are remaining largely mum about the case, saying only that they believe the attack took place quickly, during a span of only a few seconds total, and consisted of three blows.  If that is the case, they are three of the most devastating blows, causing the most physical damage, that the Unfinished Lives Project Team has ever seen.

November 26, 2012 Posted by | Alabama, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Young Alabama Lesbian Savagely Attacked, Allegedly By Girlfriend’s Teenage Brother

Gay Hate Crimes Blog Reaches New Milestone! 400k!

Dallas, Texas – Unfinished Lives Blog, a cyber effort to change the conversation about anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, reached at significant milestone at approximately Noon Central Time: 400,000 site visits.  The Unfinished Lives Project Team, past and present, thank our readership most sincerely, and move ahead with this project in the knowledge that breaking the silence and remembering the dead are acts of justice supported by so many good people.

The Unfinished Lives Project was launched in response to the over 13,000 women, men, youth, and GenderQueer people in the United States who have lost their lives so outrageously since the early 1980s to heterosexism, homophobia, and the culture of violence so prevalent in this country. As the graphic from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP)  and GLAAD shows, the crisis of hate crime violence against queer folk is not abating—it is growing annually, at an alarming rate. Bias-motivated hate crime prevention was never more important than now.  We mourn the outrageous losses these data represent, and cry out against the injustices that instigate them.

Transgender people, especially transgender youth of color, and gay men are the main targets of unreasoning hatred today.  Our suspicion is that the number of lesbians killed for their sexual orientation is alarmingly high, as well, masked in our culture by misogynistic violence that takes the lives of so many women in this country everyday.  While the number of documented attacks against lesbians is growing, we believe that the statistics we have on the murder of lesbians are the only tip of the iceberg.

This blog was also created to support the publication of Dr. Stephen Sprinkle’s groundbreaking book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Resource Publications, 2011).  The Unfinished Lives Project Team is glad that many of our readers have also discovered the book, authored by our Founder and Project Director.  Book signing and promotion events have carried the message of hate crimes prevention, LGBTQ equality, and hope throughout Texas, and to Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Toledo, South Florida, Birmingham, Chicago, New York City, St. Louis, and six cities in North Carolina. Plans are in the works for a book tour event in Indiana. Filming has begun for a made-for-cable series based on the stories of the 14 victims told in the book.  This past June, Dr. Sprinkle received the 2011 Silver Medal for Gay-Lesbian Non-Fiction from the Independent Book Publishers Awards (the IPPYs).  A translation of Unfinished Lives is in process in the Korean language, furthering the reach of this message of justice and hope on an international stage. When released in Korea later this year, Unfinished Lives will be only the second book on homosexuality to be published in South Korea.

Thank you for your continuing interest and support.  400.000 visitors is a sign of health, hope, and sacred trust. This work was and remains to be a voluntary labor of love.  We who believe in Justice cannot rest.  We who believe in Justice cannot rest until it comes!

November 24, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ, Social Justice Advocacy, South Korea, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, Unfinished Lives Book, Unfinished Lives Book Signings, women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Anti-Gay Violence with a Side of Waffle Fries: A Comment on Matthew Paul Turner’s “Five Reasons the Church Failed” on Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day

Dallas, Texas – By all reports, Mike Huckabee’s Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day was a success in “Big D” and around the nation.  Beaucoup Church folk stretched around the block to show some love to Dan Cathy’s corporate bottom line, and munch on some fast food chicken–the storied “Gospel Bird” gobbled at every church supper throughout the South.  Matthew Paul Turner, the popular Christian blogger (5,000+ subscribers) responded by writing a thoughtful post entitled “5 Reasons Why the Church Failed Yesterday.”  You can read the post in its entirety by clicking here.  In the aftermath of Wednesday’s effort to show Cathy, Huckabee, and CFA Corp some love by the conservative Christian Right, otherwise known as the Republican-Party-at-Prayer, Matthew Paul speaks to the head and the heart of right-of-center, salt-of-the-earth supporters of CFA, and seeks to prick their consciences (or at least raise their consciousness a bit). As a gay man and a Christian, an ordained Baptist minister and seminary professor, I must tell you, I was moved by much of what Matthew Paul had to say. His opening words for Reason Five were especially impressive to me. Matthew Paul writes:

“Yesterday’s hoopla surrounding CFA did nothing to prove that Christians don’t hate gay people. Oh I know that most Christians will say, ‘I don’t hate gay people!!’ But did supporting CFA Appreciation Day prove that?”  Matthew Paul then said, “Trust me, I understand that most people who ate chicken sandwiches at CFA yesterday did not do that as an act of hate. I get that. And that’s cool and all, but did the act of going out of your way to CFA prove that to be true? Do you think that the GLBTQ communities believe you? Would you, if you were gay, believe you?”

Yet, even as I read the good words on Matthew Paul’s blog, I still could not get the perpetual violence done the LGBTQ community in the name of God, the Bible, and the Church out of my mind. Nor could I remain silent about the specter of violence egged on by faith-based bigotry that lurks behind most every anti-gay hate crime in America. So, here is the short reflection on the “5 Reasons” post that I sent to Matthew Paul:

“Thought provoking and generative post, Matthew Paul. But the larger point to me is that the pogrom against LGBTQ people (many of them LGBTQ people of faith, too!) is going on all around the half-million or so ‘chicken Christians’ who are simply, idly standing by and letting it happen while they eat. 2011 saw the largest number of anti-gay murders in US history according the NCAVP (National  Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs) report. In Texas, in the space of barely six weeks, three lesbians of color have been violently attacked, and two of them are dead. The decimation of LGBTQ people is going on apace, with killers quoting the Bible and right wing religious leaders as they do it. And the good people (I really mean that, in regards to many CFA supporters) of the church are bystanders silently permitting the killings to go on, munching away. I am an ordained Baptist minister and a gay man. As I contemplate the complicity of the church in the slow rolling decimation of our fellow Americans, I believe I have a visceral understanding of the Gospel verse, ‘Jesus wept’ (John 11:35).” 

Christians in Austin, Texas, have called on all their Facebook and Twitter friends to show their faith on August 8 by making a $10 donation to a local food bank. Hold the chicken, and hold the waffle fries, please. That seems to me to be in keeping with what Jesus would have us do to show some real Godly love in action, so I will be joining my faith-filled Austin friends by sending my bucks along to the Cathedral of Hope food pantry in Dallas.  But I will also be pursuing a mission of conscience beyond that.

If you, gentle readers, believe you see an “agenda” in my response to CFA Appreciation Day, and in my addendum to Matthew Paul Turner’s “5 Reasons” post, then let me hasten to borrow the words of “our dear friend and prayer partner,” Dan Cathy of CFA, who famously said, “I plead guilty.”  I do have an agenda, an authentic gay agenda, the only so-called “gay agenda” I know anything about, one that has been influenced and shaped by the simple WWJD faith of my youth.  My agenda is that the faith-based bystanders who look idly on while women, men, and youths are bashed, bullied, and killed because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender variance will finally awaken, and take responsibility for their merciless silence–to the end that all Jesus’ followers raise their voices and act until the senseless violence stops!

~ Stephen V. Sprinkle, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, Texas,
and Theologian-in-Residence of Cathedral of Hope, Dallas, Texas

August 3, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Brite Divinity School, Bullying in schools, Cathedral of Hope, Chick-fil-a, gay bashing, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian teens, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Murdered African American Woman Remains Unidentified–Was She Lesbian?

“Jane Doe,” as rendered by Ellis County’s Sheriff’s Office, along with photos of tattoo markings on her decomposed body.

Ellis County, Texas – The decomposing corpse of an African American woman was discovered in a rural, wooded area of Ellis County on Monday, July 23. Get Equal Texas is organizing a massive campaign to identify her, and to seek out the person or persons who took her life. In a press release dated July 31, Get Equal states on its Facebook page: “She is approximately 5’4 inches tall and weighing approximately 115 pounds. She is believed to be of African-American heritage. She was wearing a black or dark gray tank top, blue jean shorts and white Nike tennis shoes with purple shoe laces. It is believed she may have disappeared on or after the early afternoon of July 17, 2012.”  The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office has released a forensic artist’s best guess about the likeness of “Jane Doe,” along with photographs of tattoo markings on her corpse.

Sheriff’s Department Investigator Joe Fitzgerald reported to the Dallas Voice that “Jane Doe” had connections to Dallas and Irving, and was probably a member of the LGBTQ community. Tell-tale trauma evidence on the corpse indicates she was murdered at another location and then brought out to the Ellis County woodlands, a desolate stretch of sparsely populated countryside south of Dallas. “Someone killed her and threw her to the side of the road,” Fitzgerald said. He went on to say that investigators were disturbed that no missing person’s report has described a woman with the characteristics of the deceased.

C.D. Kirven, well-respected activist and member of Get Equal’s Board, said, “If this was a lesbian woman, this makes a third lesbian woman of color brutally attacked in Texas within a month’s time. As a member of the LGBT community and a woman of color, this is not just an attack on this woman but on me and others in my community.” 

Examiner.com draws a possible connection with the brutal murder and assault on two lesbian teenagers of Latin descent earlier in the summer on the Texas Gulf Coast. Mollie Olgin, 19, died of a gunshot to the head in a Portland, Texas State Park.  Her girlfriend, Mary Kristene Chapa, 18, survived her wounds, and has recently been discharged from hospital to recover and rehabilitate. Noting that police have still arrested no one for the attack on Olgin and Chapa, the Examiner post goes on to speculate:  “It very well could be that all three of these violent crimes are related. This is why a warning should go out in the Texas area for it seems that our gay sisters are becoming targets for dangerous individuals whether the police wish to admit to this insight or not.” The post goes on to call upon all members of the LGBTQ community to assist in spreading the artist’s sketch of the Ellis County “Jane Doe” and to warn women to be on their guard for a killer or killers of lesbian women of color still at large in Texas.

“The anonymous nature of this killing demands an all-out effort on the part of the LGBTQ community in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex to recover the identity of this woman whose death is the very definition of an ‘unfinished life,'” said Stephen Sprinkle, Founder and Director of the Unfinished Lives Project, which tells the stories of little known or forgotten LGBTQ hate crimes murder victims.

Officer Fitzgerald asks anyone with information on the identity of the victim or the circumstances of her death to call the Ellis County Sheriff’s Department at 972-825-4928. 

August 1, 2012 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, GET EQUAL Texas, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian teens, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, Uncategorized, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lesbian Mutilated in Nebraska Hate Crime Speaks Out To Doubters

Charlie Rogers, victim of alleged anti-LGBTQ hate crime, speaks out for the first time.

Lincoln, Nebraska – “I am not a pawn in a game, you know. I am a person.” Charlie Rogers, the victim of an alleged hate crime mutilation in the Nebraska capital city spoke out for the first time in an extended interview on KETV Omaha on Thursday.  Rogers, a 33-year-old small business owner who lives openly as a lesbian, said she decided to grant the interview in response to media reports that police were investigating if her report was a hoax.

The five-minute interview shows the passion and hurt Ms. Rogers feels as the victim of a horrific home invasion, allegedly by three masked men early on Sunday who stripped her, bound her with zip ties, carved anti-gay slurs into her flesh, and then attempted to set the house on fire.  Her harrowing experience did not end with a stay in the hospital and then in a safe house where she has been recovering since the attack.  Now Ms. Rogers has to deal with the suspicions unleashed by doubts about her report of what happened to her in the dead of night in her own home. “It feels like a kick in the stomach,” she told KETV, even though she understands that there will always be doubters. “Being a victim in situation like this or a survivor and then having your integrity questioned, I guess, it feels very victimizing again,” Rogers said. “It makes an already difficult situation more difficult because my world has been changed forever by these events.” Lincoln Police Officer Katie Flood suggested to NBC  that they were investigating all aspects of the case, including whether Ms. Rogers made the whole thing up. The media seized on the suggestion of a hoax immediately, sensationalizing the story of this outrage into an inquest into the victim’s credibility.

Investigators found three spray-painted anti-gay epithets in Ms. Rogers’ home, including one that read, “We Found U Dyke!”  Coupled with the victim’s report that the attack was motivated by homophobia, and the slurs sliced into her skin, all these factors have led police to proceed as if this case was a hate crime based on sexual orientation.

But the hate crime investigation notwithstanding, Lincoln’s populace is reportedly plagued by doubts.  Speculation mounted in the days before Ms. Rogers’ interview–“what if…?”

Ms. Rogers’ attorney, Megan Mikolajczyk, told CNN that her client wanted to dispel as much of the doubt as she could.  Mikolajczyk said she wasn’t surprised that there were people who wondered if the attack really ever happened at all. She also said that Ms. Rogers was not answering any one person’s doubts in particular. “I don’t think it’s safe or necessary to point the finger at any one individual,” Mikolajczyk said. “I think it’s par for the course for any sort of high-profile incident for people to question what happened.”

Sadly, Ms. Rogers’ attorney is right: it is “par for the course” for doubts to be raised about the veracity, mental state, motives, and character of LGBTQ hate crimes victims whenever they are targeted by violent attacks.  Such suspicion may or may not aid investigators to arrive at the truth in cases like this one, but it surely re-victimizes the person wounded or killed in such attacks.  “We-doubt-you” stories in the press and on TV also rob many of these outrageous crimes of their news worthy power to draw badly needed national attention to the soaring increases in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes.  Blame and besmirch the victims of hate crimes is one of the leading ways heterosexist communities control gay people, as dozens of stories on the Unfinished Lives Blog show. One has to wonder whether statements of police officers to the media about hoaxes are less about the search for forensic truth than the desperation of the status quo to stay intact when revelatory events begin to disturb the public.

Ms. Rogers, an avid LGBTQ advocate, community volunteer, and former University of Nebraska basketball star, deserves a great deal of credit for coming forward to set the record straight, and to quell as much of the doubt as she can. Time will tell who is right, but time is also of the essence as the trail of the alleged attackers grows increasingly cold. Many in Lincoln, hundreds of not thousands, do believe Charlie Rogers, and support her full recovery even as they remain watchful that police investigators carry out a thorough, speedy search for the truth in this case, and expeditiously bring these hate criminals to justice.

July 28, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Blame the victim, gay bashing, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, home-invasion, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Media Issues, Nebraska, Slashing attacks, Slurs and epithets, Torture and Mutilation, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lesbian Mutilated in Nebraska Hate Crime Speaks Out To Doubters

Gay Hate Crime in Nebraska Capital Draws Ire From Hundreds

Hundreds rally to protest alleged anti-gay hate crime at the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln. [Journal Star photo]

Lincoln, Nebraska – A woman’s report of a horrendous anti-gay hate crime has galvanized the progressive community in the Nebraska capital city to demand a stop to the violence.  Social media spread the news of a break-in at the woman’s Lincoln home on Sunday, drawing hundreds to the steps of the capitol building for a vigil in a show of support for all victims of LGBTQ hate crimes.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the woman was seized early Sunday morning in her home by three men in masks who stripped her, bound her hand and foot with zip ties, and proceeded to slice her skin all over her body. The victim told police that her attackers cut homophobic slurs into her flesh before splashing gasoline on the floor and setting it aflame.  As they fled the scene, the victim managed to flip and roll outside where her screams caught the attention of neighbors. Her name has not yet been released, and police are not yet speculating on a motive for the crime.

Police informed reporters for KVNO News that the victim was treated at a local hospital and released. The Lincoln LGBTQ community, who believe she was singled out because of her sexual orientation, has rallied to the victim’s support.  One local source, frustrated at the foot-dragging of the police on naming  hate crime as a motive, claims that the message, “We found you, Dyke!” spray painted in the basement of the victim’s home.

At the “Vigil Against Violence” Sunday night at the State Capitol, leaders of the LGBTQ and straight-allied community, already empowered by the recent Star City Pride Festival and a vigorous debate on the “Fairness Amendment” that would ban discrimination in housing and employment against LGBTQ people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, came out to let their voices be heard in droves–over 300 by the start of the vigil, according to the Star Journal.  Tyler Richard, president of Outlinc, a group that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Lincoln, called upon the community to support the investigation with calm and resolve.  “We are shocked and saddened by the report of an alleged hate crime involving a member of the LGBT community early Sunday morning,” Richard said. “Our hearts go out to the victim, her family and close friends. Many in our community are understandably experiencing a great deal of sadness, anger and confusion. We look to our entire community to pull together in this difficult time.”

No one has been arrested as of late Sunday night in connection with the crime.

July 23, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, home-invasion, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Nebraska, Outlinc, Slashing attacks, Slurs and epithets, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Teen Lesbian Attacked “Just For Being Gay” in Louisville

Teenage Lesbian victim of brutal hate crime attack showing her split lip and knocked out teeth. Her jaw was broken in multiple places by three adult males yelling anti-gay epithets [WAVE 3 News image].

Louisville, Kentucky – A 16-year-old lesbian and her two young male friends were viciously attacked by men shouting anti-gay slurs as they beat the teeth out of the girl’s mouth.  Early on Tuesday morning, the young Hornback brothers, 13 and 15, who had accompanied their lesbian friend to a local store, desperately called their mother as the attack commenced.  They told their mother that a group of four “grown-ups” were harassing their friend for being gay, and then cut the call short when one of the men struck the girl. Ms. Andi Hornback told WAVE 3 News that she could hear one of her sons scream as the adult men knocked the young lesbian to the ground, broke her jaw, and repeatedly kicked her in the stomach as they yelled hatefully.  Police are now investigating the violence as a hate crime that has shattered the peace and calm of the Wyandotte Park community in Louisville.

One of Ms. Hornback’s sons suffered a concussion as he jumped in to rescue his friend. With her voice trembling from emotion, Ms. Hornback told reporters how she felt when she heard her child cry out in fear and pain.   “I can’t even describe it to you,” she said , “I’m getting ready to cry, hearing my child scream and know that they were hurt and they were scared and I couldn’t get there fast enough.”  EMS personnel and police were already on the scene by the time Ms. Hornback arrived.

The young lesbian who was the focus of the attack was lying on the pavement with blood gushing out of her mouth. Speaking on behalf of the girl’s family, Brenda Hickerson detailed her injuries for WCSH 6 News: “Her jaw is broken in several places and she has to have a plate put in her jaw. She has teeth knocked out of her mouth and she has scrapes and bruises.” Shaking with frustration and anger, Hickerson said, “She was on the ground with blood just pouring out of her face. These grown men put her on the ground, kicked her in her stomach, kicked her in her face and punched her in the face and kept going until a bystander yelled stop and called 911.”

The four adults in the group that attacked the teens included two white men, one African American man, and a woman whose race has not been identified in the press.  The Hornback boys say that the woman played no part in the attack on their lesbian friend.  Brenda Hickerson believes that the woman’s conscience will plague her until she comes forward.  Hickerson says she is convinced this was a vicious hate crime. “Otherwise, you are saying that this is right to hate,” she said, “and it’s just not right!” 

In an ironic twist, Louisville churches figure prominently in the background of this anti-lesbian attack.  The adults pressed their attack on the teenager in front of two Wyandotte Park area churches.  The pastor of St. James Church, a self-described non-denominational and evangelical congregation, has decried the crime.  According to other clergy, the young lesbian who was the focus of the attack is a member of a local Baptist Church that openly welcomes and affirms gays and lesbians.

Hickerson, wearing a rainbow PRIDE shirt in her television interviews, said she has no doubt as to why this attack was so brutal. “This was a hate crime,” Hickerson said, “There were hate slurs and this was not a robbery because they didn’t take anything from them.” She continued, “I think she was targeted for being a strong lesbian young girl.”

July 19, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay teens, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Kentucky, Lesbian teens, LGBTQ, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Teen Lesbian Latina Released From Hospital Care After Head Shot

Mary “Kristene” Chapa behind the wheel of her car. Released after three weeks in intensive care since a possible hate crime shooting, she assisted police in sketching the likeness of the man who attacked her and killed her lover [NBC Latino photo courtesy of Hilario Chapa].

Portland, Texas – Pink News, a well-connected LGBTQ news source from Great Britain, reports that the lesbian teen victim of a possible hate crime has been released from hospital three weeks after she was shot in the head.  Mary Kristene Chapa, 18, was attacked along with her girlfriend, Mollie Olgin, on June 22 at Violet Andrews State Park in the Texas Gulf Coast city of Portland. Olgin, who was also shot in the head, died at the scene.  Chapa, known to her family and friends as Kristene, was rushed to an intensive care facility at Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital where she was treated for grave injuries to her brain.

According to her brother, Hilario Chapa, Kristene is now in rehab and is “doing awesome.”  NBC Latino reports that Hilario, a tech sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, is astounded at the progress his little sister has made since someone attempted to kill her with a high caliber hand gun, and left her for dead in the tall grass of the state park. Hilario relates that in the last days of her hospital care, friends were allowed to visit her, and “she lit up” when she saw them. Kristene faces a long medical recovery, and just as challenging a recovery from the loss of her girlfriend, Mollie.  “She’s in neurological rehab, getting her speech and her way of thinking better,” Hilario told NBC Latino. “She also is in physical therapy to help strengthen her left side and mental therapy as well.”

Initially reluctant to let Kristene know that Mollie had not survived the attack, the family finally let her know that Mollie was dead. Police specialists and Mollie’s family were present to help break the news to Kristene. “With that support group we passed the info to my little sister,” Hilario said. “She was brokenhearted, very upset.”  Hilario went on to say how difficult it was to know how to comfort his sister. “They told us you have to let her cry. I didn’t want to tell her not to cry. But Mollie’s father (Mario) is a very good man, considering he lost his daughter.” Grateful for Mr. Olgin’s support for his sister, Hilario says, “He comes to visit her and when he does she gets emotional but he is supporting her. He wants to go visit her in rehab.”  

Portland Police released the information that Kristene was the previously unidentified eyewitness who aided them and the Texas Rangers in creating both the first and second renderings of the attacker’s likeness.  She was reportedly eager to help authorities apprehend the person who killed Mollie. The suspect is a 5-feet-8-inches tall, 14o pound Anglo male, with brown hair and a scruffy beard.  Kristene’s assistance with the sketch has prompted great public interest in finding the man who shattered the Portland community’s peace of mind, and set the South Texas LGBTQ community on guard against a possible hate crime.  Police authorities have repeatedly said that the attack did not appear random, but they have declined so far to support an anti-gay hate crime motive for the shooting. According to friends and family, Kristene and Mollie had been in a five-month love relationship at the time of the assault.

July 17, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, gay teens, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Texas, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Teen Lesbian Latina Released From Hospital Care After Head Shot

Lesbian Shooting Survivor Helps Police ID Lover’s Killer

Mary Kristine Chapa, lesbian shooting survivor, assisted Texas Rangers artist to sketch a 2nd likeness of the killer who took Mollie Olgin’s life and left Chapa with severe brain injuries on June 22.

Portland, Texas – The survivor of a deadly attack on a lesbian couple in South Texas has recovered sufficiently to help a Texas Rangers forensic artist sketch an accurate likeness of her lover’s killer.  Mary Chapa, 18, shot in the head in the same vicious attack that left her 19-year-old lover, Mollie Olgin, dead beside her at a popular state park, has recovered her sight and her communication abilities enough to guide the artist through a refinement of an earlier sketch of their assailant. ABC World News reports that Chapa is eager to help with the arrest of Olgin’s killer. The horrifying shooting took place on June 22 in Violet Andrews State Park in the city of Portland, near Corpus Christi on the Texas Gulf Coast.

The second sketch is more detailed than the first, which was released to the public on July4.  Chapa herself asked to have the Rangers artist come to her bedside so that she could refine the original likeness she had helped construct.  The new representation shows a young Anglo make in his 20s with a scruffy set of whiskers.  Portland Police say they are searching for any information leading to the apprehension and arrest of the man who is reportedly five-feet-eight-inches tall, 14o pounds, with brown hair and beard. Police Chief Randy Wright told news media that Chapa has been making an “exceptional recovery” from the brain injury she sustained from the shooter.

Though police officials have repeatedly said this case of homicide and aggravated assault does not appear to be “random,” they are still unwilling to discuss any motive for the savagery that has shaken this Texas coastal community to its core since late June. The initial suspicions of the LGBTQ community and allies, that this was an anti-lesbian murder and assault, have only deepened.  National and state human rights agencies, such as the Human Rights Campaign, Truth Wins Out, and Equality Texas, have called upon investigators to pursue the hate crimes possibility with all the resources at their disposal. NBC U.S. News and MSNBC.com are reporting that the FBI are also assisting with the investigation. For the FBI to be involved in the investigation of a local homicide and aggravated assault suggests to some observers that law enforcement is taking an anti-gay hate crime dimension to the case with considerably more seriousness that has publicly been acknowledged by authorities.

July 15, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Equality Texas, FBI, gay teens, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Human Rights Campaign, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, Texas Rangers, Truth Wins Out | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lesbian Shooting Survivor Helps Police ID Lover’s Killer

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