John M. Becker

Arrests Expected This Week in Philly Gay-Bashing Case

Filed By John M. Becker | September 22, 2014 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: anti-gay attack, Brian Sims, Charles Chaput, citizen sleuths, crime-solving, Fran McGlinn, hate crime, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, social media

philly-hate-crime-gang.jpgPolice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania say they have nearly concluded their investigation into a savage anti-gay attack that occurred on September 11, when a gay couple was brutally beaten and robbed by a mob of men and women. The Philadelphia Gay News reports that authorities expect to file charges this week:

A police source said this week that they were nearly "ready to go" in terms of making arrests and said charges are expected "this week." A key witness, the source said, was due in for an interview Monday, "the girl who was right in the middle of it all." After that, the source said, the District Attorney's Office will review all of the evidence collected in the case and make a decision about charges.

"People are going to get locked up," the source said...

Up to a dozen people were involved in the attack, which occurred around 10:45 p.m. Sept. 11 at 16th and Chancellor streets. A male couple, 27 and 28, was walking to get pizza when they said one of the men brushed shoulders with a member of the group, and that person asked if the two were a couple. They responded that they were, and the group attacked, with some members holding the victims down and others kicking and punching them. The one victim's head was smashed into the cement and he suffered facial fractures that necessitated his jaw being wired shut for eight weeks. As the men were being attacked, one of their bags, containing a cell phone and wallet, fell to the ground and one of the assailants took it.

A source close to the investigation said one of the members of the group said she picked up the bag in the melee thinking it belonged to a companion and, upon realizing it did not, dropped it at 16th and Walnut streets. The bag was discovered by a homeless person, who used one of the victim's credit cards...

As of Monday morning, police had completed 18 interviews with members of the group and witnesses. Each interview, the source said, takes about four hours.

The source gave two reasons for the length of the investigation, which has drawn criticism from some members of the local LGBT community. First, investigators have had to visit each place where the victim's stolen credit card was used. Second, each member of the group has apparently retained a separate, private, expensive attorney, so authorities are moving deliberately to ensure that they have an airtight case:

"We want to make sure whoever threw a punch or whoever was part of this assault will be arrested. What happens with cases like this is that, if you rush it and don't do a good job, they'll start throwing out charges later on. These kids all have top-notch attorneys, so if our case isn't put together on our end, they're going to pick it apart. But we've put together a great case for the DA and we'll be working in conjunction with the DA to bring the charges."

More, after the break.

Last week, the gay-bashing story made headlines after police released surveillance footage of the assailants -- a gang of clean-cut, preppy twenty-somethings -- and they were tracked down and identified via Facebook and Twitter.

Many of the suspects are graduates of Archbishop Wood Catholic High School, a private school in the tony suburb of Warminster. One of them, 25-year-old Fran McGlinn, was either dismissed or resigned (accounts differ) from his job as an assistant basketball coach at the school. Supporters of the alleged gay-basher are defending him on Twitter under the hashtag #McGlinnocent.

charles-chaput.jpgPhiladelphia Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput (left), a noted homophobe, released a statement condemning "violence against anyone, simply because of who they are," but not containing a word of support for the victims, even though one was beaten so badly he was left lying unconscious in a two-foot pool of blood and his jaw will have to be wired shut for several weeks while he recovers.

Even though by all accounts, the attack was a hate crime -- assistant district attorney Nellie Fitzpatrick told PGN that "there's no question" that the savage beating was motivated by anti-gay hatred -- the suspects will not face enhanced hate-crimes charges, because Pennsylvania's hate-crimes statute does not cover crimes motivated by a victim's real or perceived sexual orientation:

In 2002, the Pennsylvania legislature added sexual orientation and gender identity to the state hate-crimes law, which already covered aspects such as race and religion. But it was challenged in court by opponents and ultimately repealed on a technicality.

The assault has reinvigorated the push to re-add LGBT protections to Pennsylvania's hate-crimes law. State Representative Brian Sims -- an openly gay legislator whose district includes the site of the attack -- and State Senator Larry Farnese will co-host a rally at Love Park on Thursday to stand in solidarity with the victims and demand that LGBT people be protected under the law.

State Rep. Brendan Boyle, the chief sponsor of a bill that would again make the state hate crimes law LGBT-inclusive, says that the measure could pass as early as tomorrow. Supporters of the bill say they have the votes to pass it -- the only question is whether or not anti-gay Republican House leaders will allow it to come to the floor.

Tom Wolf, the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania governor, has endorsed the measure. Sims, Farnese, and Boyle are all Democrats as well.

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