Friday, August 21, 2009

Two Arrested for Beating Gay Teen

(from Advocate)
By Michelle Garcia

Two teenagers have been arrested and charged with aggravated assault for allegedly beating a gay 15-year-old last week.

Portage, Mich., teen Steven Harmon suffered a skull fracture, bruising, and a swollen lip and eye. He said the 15- and 16-year-old suspects yelled homophobic slurs as they beat his face about 20 times on August 13, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette .

The attackers, whose names have not been released, were charged as juveniles. The elder suspect pleaded guilty on Tuesday and is being held in a county juvenile facility until his disposition hearing on September 14.

Harmon was with a 17-year-old female friend when the incident occurred. The two suspects approached Harmon, his friend, and her nephew in a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant, calling them antigay slurs. Harmon's friend was able to get the manager to remove the boys from the establishment, but they followed Harmon and his friend back to her apartment complex.

They tried to get away, but the boys started hitting Harmon's head. Eventually, the girl was able to shield him from the attackers, who then ran from the scene.

Harmon's family had stressed that they wanted to press bias charges, but Michigan's hate-crimes law does not address sexual orientation.