No Arrests Made in Gay-Bashing Case, But Here’s What We Know Now
There haven’t been many substantial updates since last week in the case of the two gay men who were brutally attacked on September 11th at 16th and Chancellor streets. I’ve reached out to the police and the District Attorney’s office, but neither have any new information to share. According to DA spokesperson Tasha Jamerson, there are no new developments, but “given the notoriety of the case, I would expect the police department will hold a press conference to let people know what’s happening.”
Caryn Kunkle, who’s standing in as spokesperson for the 26- and 28-year-old men who were attacked, says the fact no one has been arrested yet is “outrageous.” She tells me that “the boys feel increasingly anxious about leaving their house. Imagine being attacked by 15 strangers in your hometown and not knowing who it is. And they are still free.”
I reached out to Philadelphia attorney Jim Beasley to get an idea about why it’s taking so long to bring someone into custody. He told me he looked into the case, “and also spoke with someone who recently worked at the DA’s office. … From what I can tell, it just looks like the investigators are making sure they address all issues, and taking the necessary time before making any conclusions.”
An anonymous police officer who gave an interview on our News blog has more to add about the slow-going process: “It’s because there are so many people involved. It’s a huge thing, possibly up to 15 attackers, and you have to figure out who actually did what. The actual assault is not on video. If it were, it would be easier to narrow it down. You need to figure out who threw punches, who called him a faggot. What are you going to do, charge them all with conspiracy to commit simple assault? It’s convoluted.”
More shockingly, the officer says he believes the perpetrators may not get any jail time at all:
“I’ve heard plenty of people saying that we shouldn’t even be handling this case, because it’s a simple assault, since we don’t have the hate crime laws like that. They got punched in the face and beat up. That’s not something we’re handling normally. If [you] got punched in the face, it’s simple assault. You would fill out a private criminal complaint. We have a pretty strict policy here of what’s aggravated and simple. Guy gets punched in the face and gets a tooth knocked out, simple assault, a private criminal complaint. If we had to handle every single fight involving black eyes and knocked-out teeth, we wouldn’t have time to do everything else. Unless he was hit with a pipe or a weapon, we’re pretty lax when it comes to aggravated over simple assault.”
In more-promising news, the case seems to be shining more of a spotlight on Pennsylvania’s hate-crime law, which does not include sexual orientation as a protected class. We spoke with Representative Brendan Boyle this afternoon, and were told that he plans to push a bill he proposed in 2013, which adds sexual orientation to the current hate-crime law, and get it passed on Tuesday. More on that here.