Tag Archives: bashing

Trial likely for 3 in slur-filled attack on gay couple

Zachary Hesse and his boyfriend were moving on from a frozen yogurt stop toward a pizza joint in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood when they came across eight to 10 young adults out on the town.

One of the revelers, using profanity and slurs, asked if they were gay, Hesse testified on Dec. 15. Hesse said they were, echoing the same crude language, and they soon found themselves surrounded.

Hesse said he was pushed, pushed back and was promptly punched in the face.

“After that, it just kind of got messy,” Hesse, 28, testified before a judge upheld felony assault and conspiracy charges against two young men and a woman, the daughter of a suburban police chief. “(I felt) terrified.”

In a matter of minutes, boyfriend Andy Haught was lying in a pool of blood with a broken jaw and broken cheekbones. A nearby resident called 911, and the group took off.

The incident in downtown Philadelphia’s tony Rittenhouse neighborhood swirled on news and social media sites in September. It has alternately been described as a routine street fight or a homophobic attack in a state that doesn’t include sexual orientation in its hate crime law.

“I think this court knows, it’s going to be an interesting trial,” Assistant District Attorney Mike Barry said, asking Common Pleas Judge Charles Hayden to leave the answer to a jury.

The judge agreed and ordered the defendants to return to court in January to enter pleas.

Security video posted online by police helped identify the group, many of them friends from their days at a suburban Catholic high school. Defense lawyers vow to mount a vigorous defense for their clients – 24-year-old Philip Williams, of Warminster; 24-year-old Kathryn Knott, of Southampton; and 26-year-old Kevin Harrigan, of Warrington.

In court this week, defense lawyers compared the case to a street brawl, arguing that both parties took part.

“We don’t have a conspiracy, a wolf pack, a group of young people seeking to beat people up on the streets of Philadelphia,” defense lawyer Fortunato Perri Jr. argued.

Prosecutors took a darker view and called the initial query about the men’s sexuality “fighting words.”

“They got attacked just for being who they were,” Barry said.

He said defendant Harrigan ignited the fight when he hurled a slur at Hesse and threw the first punch.

Witness Geoff Nagle, who was looking out a third-floor window, said he saw a woman pointing a finger at one of the victims and then heard three to four punches land. He took a cellphone photo and called 911.

Prosecutors said they believe co-defendant Williams moved through the crowd to “sucker-punch” Haught. However, the defense said he went to Knott’s aid after Haught struck her.

“Phil Williams is not initially an aggressor here,” Perri argued. “He gets involved after a female is punched. … That is actually justified, under the circumstances.”

Applebee’s true values on display in Rice Lake

A homophobic diner visited the Applebee’s in Rice Lake last month, where he was waited on by out gay server Tim Phares. After slinging derogatory anti-gay epithets at Phares behind his back all evening – slurs that were overheard and reported by diners at nearby tables – the culprit called the following day to say he would not eat at the restaurant again until it fired Phares.

Instead of telling the bigot that he was no longer welcome at Applebee’s, the restaurant’s manager wrote up Phares over the incident. In effect, he was punished for being victimized.

A couple of days later, one of Phares’ co-workers drove up behind his parked car. Her husband leaped from the car, called Phares a “fucking faggot” and slammed him in the head with a 2×4 piece of wood. Phares was left unconscious on the pavement with multiple facial fractures that will require extensive surgery.

While her husband was charged in the attack, co-worker Shannon Hendricks was not. Neither was she fired.

Phares, on the other hand, was told not to return to work at the restaurant due to the negative publicity over the incident.

Phares did get his job back, but only after Apple American Group CEO Greg Flynn intervened, he says. The restaurant denies that claim but does acknowledge that Flynn became involved.

Applebee’s corporate marketing chief says the company has a nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. She also says Applebee’s provides domestic partner benefits in states where same-sex marriage and civil unions are legal.

But at large corporations and bureaucracies, official policies seldom make it to the trenches – unless they boost profits. Many companies treat their diversity initiatives as window dressing. Sadly, that appears to be the case at Applebee’s.

It was not until days after the story of Phares’ bashing went viral that Applebee’s offered a public statement on the incident. That statement failed to once mention the words “gay,” “homophobia” – or even “sorry.” It contained no concern or compassion for the victim. Instead, it stubbornly defended the company’s refusal to fire or reprimand Hendrickson.

This should not be surprising. Applebee’s is hardly a model corporate citizen. The company fails to meet even one of the five minimal guidelines tracked by the Diners’ Guide to Ethical Eating, a consumer report on working conditions in American restaurants compiled by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.

The company’s YouGov Brand Index, also known as the “Buzz,” tumbled from a decent score of 35 down to 5 after Zane Terkel, CEO of one of the company’s largest franchisees, announced that he would not build more restaurants or hire more workers due to Obamacare. He said that he should not be forced to provide health insurance to his workers. 

With so many locally owned restaurants that treat workers fairly and even sponsor or host LGBT and other community groups and events, we urge you to think seriously about where you spend your money. The next time you’re dining out, ask yourself whether you want to reward companies like Applebee’s or support local eateries that put your dollars back in your community and share your values.

Five charged in South Carolina bashing of gay teen

South Carolina authorities have charged five men in the brutal beating of a gay teen earlier this month in Rock Hill, reports the Charlotte Observer.

The York County sheriff’s office said the five have been charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, which carries a prison term of up to 20 years. They could face additional hate crime charges as well, depending on the outcome of an FBI investigation.

Nineteen-year-old Joshua Esskew, a student at Winthrop University, was beaten by a group of at least eight men at a convenience store in an April 9 attack that was filmed by a surveillance camera. When the footage was posted online, the attack gained national attention.

Esskew said he was walking to the store when someone yelled an anti0gay slur at him. He was then hit in the head with a 40-ounce malt liquor bottle and beaten and kicked for nearly 15 seconds.

Sheriff Bruce Bryant said the video helped break the case, producing a number of tips from the public. In face, members of the public provided the names of all five suspects who have been arrested.

Bryant said the FBI is turning over its findings to the U.S. Justice Department.

In the wake of the attack, an official of Winthrop University warned gay students to “act straight” when they’re off campus.

All five suspects are from York, S.C.: Cortezio Laquise Douglas, 21; Lortarius Anthony Duncan, 22 (pictured); LaJames Mitchell, 22; Darenco Markie Wilmore, 21; and Bobby Wilson, 20.

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Jury awards gay couple $3.15 M over Burger King bashing

A gay couple from Union City, N.J., was awarded $3.15 million in damages after workers at a local Burger King chased and beat them following a dispute over their order.

Peter Casbar, 43, and Noel Robichaux, 46, testified that the dispute with the person taking their order in the 2007 incident escalated and other Burger King workers became involved after they left the restaurant, The Jersey Journal reported.

“The manager and a group of angry restaurant employees chased the couple and then mercilessly kicked, beat and spat upon the two men while screaming hate-filled anti-gay invectives,” the couple’s attorney said in a statement. “Violence against anybody, including gay people, cannot be condoned. The jury spoke to this issue.”

Angel Caraballo and Christopher Soto, two employees of the Union City Burger King, have pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for the attack on Casbar and Robichaux.

The couple alleged they were victims of a violent hate crime and brought the suit under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination.

The $3.15 million must be paid by Food Service Properties Corp. and Union City Restaurant Corp., which own seven Burger Kings.

The couple’s lawyer said they thought they were going to die during the attack.