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Montana

Gay man fabricates hate crime attack

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

MISSOULA, Mont. — A 22-year-old openly gay Montana man who reported he was the victim of an alleged hate crime fabricated the attack, and has pleaded guilty to charges of filing a false police report.

Billings, Mont., resident Joseph Baken on Tuesday was sentenced to 180 days in jail and a $300 fine, with the jail time suspended.

Joseph Baken

A spokesperson for the Missoula Police Department told local media that the department had developed new information regarding the alleged hate crime which led investigators to charge Baken late Monday.

Baken told the MPD investigators that during the early morning hours of August 5 as he was celebrating his 22nd birthday, he approached three men in a club asking where could find a local gay bar, and after being invited outside to have a cigarette with one of the men, he was attacked and beaten, reported the Missoula Independent.

In the hours after the alleged incident, word spread via social media including a Facebook page “Wipe Out Homophobia,” which identified Baken only by his first name of Joesph.

The page went on to report that Baken’s assailants hurled anti-gay epithets such as “faggot,” during the attack.

“Nobody deserves this, especially not just because of your sexuality,” the page’s organizers wrote. There was also a picture of Baken taken (above, right) immediately after the alleged attack, according to the page’s creators.

But the story began to fall apart after the Missoula Independent and MPD investigators obtained video footage that showed Baken doing a backflip on a local street, sustaining the injuries — lacerations to his face — that were depicted on social media sites.

D Gregory Smith, a local licensed mental health counselor, LGBT activist, and Executive Director of AIDS Outreach, a Bozeman, Mont.-based HIV testing service, said he was angered by the false report.

“Yeah, I’m angry. I think this may have set things back a bit as far as people taking the threat to LGBTQ people seriously in the state of Montana,” Smith told LGBTQ Nation. “When someone needs the help of the police because they have been a victim of gay assault, will it be met with deep suspicion and possibly a sneer?”

“I’m also really worried about the kid who reported the whole thing,” he added.

“I’m worried that this will ruin his life. I’m worried that this decision to report — however it was made — was possibly made under the influence. Bad decisions are made every day under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Smith said he’s also worried the that LGBT community that so quickly rallied around Baken “will turn just as quickly against him.”

Baken was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

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70 more reader comments:

  1. sick !!!

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:19pm
  2. shameful…

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:19pm
  3. Daniele, read the article.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:19pm
  4. Dumbass.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:21pm
  5. are you fucking kidding me? How ridiculous, this will just make it harder for people who actually get attacked to make reports and see justice.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:22pm
  6. I’m sure there is more going on with this young man than we understand. He needs help and counseling.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:22pm
  7. I guess Gay or Straight, liars do exist.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:24pm
  8. That is just ridiculous!

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:24pm
  9. It makes me angry that someone would lie about this.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:25pm
  10. wow. way to set things back for everyone.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:26pm
  11. great now every time someone claims a hate crime they will be treated like liars by fox news.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:26pm
  12. >< dude, completely dumbass thing to do.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:26pm
  13. God fucking damn it!!! This does absolutely NOTHING to help the cause. It only hurts…

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:28pm
  14. It’s pretty sad that someone was craving attention so much that they had to go and do something like this.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:29pm
  15. iknew it was fake when I saw it.. It looked like make up..

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:31pm
  16. I have to say- this is very sad, and upsetting that someone would go to these levels, because this only sets things back. However, I think instead of lecturing, and judging him- people should hope that he would get the counseling, and help he needs. He obviously has some issues, that drove him to this. He needs help, and support- even if his actions were wrong.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:31pm
  17. The LGBT community still needs to get the same rights that everyone else has therefore I wouldn’t turn my back on him. What he did was wrong yes but he still needs to know that he has family to support him which is after all what a family is about, supporting each member through thick and thin! And besides, how many times has the media shown people who should go to jail, just getting a slap on the wrist instead?

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:32pm
  18. What I hate about this is not just that he did it…but that everybody was like “Look at what happens to people.”…they didn’t mind checking the facts…or anything…just blindly assume that this really did happen. If I told you the sky was falling…would you believe me? We need to learn to think for ourselves and not just say things on the internet that may or may not be true because it would help our cause…we need to fact check these things and stop calling for heads to be on the end of pitchforks to be paraded around the centre of town just because something seems to be a hate crime. I hate that he did this…but how many of the people that hate this were calling for more blood to be shed when it comes to the “attackers”?

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:33pm
  19. Sooo Tiffany… Since he is gay, he should not face jail time because some others do and some don’t? This is pathetic, and he should do his time.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:34pm
  20. Tch. Brutality at it’s finest. If you don’t like something or someone, just beat them up, eh? Tch, those bastards should have the same done to them -_-

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:38pm
  21. Just because someone is gay doesn’t automatically mean they get a pass to do whatever they’d like. Eventually, even a family such as ours needs to purge out those members who cause us more harm than those outside of it. It’s one thing to say “If you aren’t helping the cause, you’re hurting it” but it’s quite another to actively go out of your way to cause damage to it through hateful and terrible acts of lying.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:39pm
  22. Cid … you should read the article.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:40pm
  23. wow, way to set back the gay rights campaign asshole.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:41pm
  24. Wtf!

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:41pm
  25. To me, this is worse than if someone had actually beat him up!

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:42pm
  26. Wow, this is messed up. Did he not think about what this would do to the LGBT community if he were found out???

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:44pm
  27. Just an FYI – not to excuse his behavior- but it was at 1:30 in the morning on his birthday. He was wasted. So he obviously wasn’t firing on all the spark plugs. It’s no excuse, but there were other things at play here.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:50pm
  28. Well… Alcohol is not something you can put at play. Yes- we all act stupid, when under the influence- but I am not going to beat my own ass to make a point. He obviously has some deep seeded issues.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:52pm
  29. Wow.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:54pm
  30. That’s just sad.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:54pm
  31. So not cool!

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:58pm
  32. This is so sad, for Joseph and the community.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:58pm
  33. That kid is mentalky ill. Normal and sane Gay people don’t do that crap!

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 10:04pm
  34. *mentally

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 10:05pm
  35. Keep Standing There Fuckhead!

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 10:14pm
  36. Hold your horses, people! You know the argument that we casually fling back at the religious right about them not judging us? Our community is viciously doing that to him. If you are going to use the argument, then practice what you preach. None of you know all of the details. We only know what has been reported to us. My suspicion is that there is more to this story. Move on and use your anger and betrayal in a more constructive way, like getting legislation in place to protect people. Honestly! Too much fighting, bitching and drama! It’s no wonder we can’t get anything done!

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 10:17pm
  37. no words…..none

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 10:21pm
  38. This is so disgusting and will set our cause back exponentially …however this is a cry for help and he needs some therapy.
    ..

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 10:22pm
  39. I’m so tired of these fake hate crime reports. Less and less people are going to take us seriosuly because of people making things up, when in reality hate crimes DO happen each and every day.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 10:23pm
  40. This is awful… It’ll be a whole boy who cried wolf scenario with hate crimes if stuff like this happens.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 10:33pm
  41. I just feel sorry for the guy..

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 10:35pm
  42. I hate this for the cause and for the boy involved. It’s true he caused a lot of harm, but I can’t imagine the heat he’s going to get for this.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 10:36pm
  43. he should be publicly shamed, tared and feathered! we have it hard enough without our own making it worse for us.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 10:41pm
  44. There is absolutely no excuses for this at all. I see so many people defending him here, and there is no excuse whatsoever.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 10:43pm
  45. Who would’ve thunk it? Another Matthew Shepherd.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 11:17pm
  46. Oh no! This doesn’t help our cause AT ALL. How dare he.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 11:17pm
  47. This young man needs some serious help and professional counselling.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 11:36pm
  48. that’s really messed up. Way to set everyone back who has actually survived an attack. Not cool

    Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 11:40pm
  49. Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 11:57pm
  50. What Timber Venard said.

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 1:24am
  51. Why???

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 1:49am
  52. Isn’t homophobia bad enough for you?

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 1:50am
  53. Sadly, there are only two conclusions to all reported hate crimes: that they happened, or that they didn’t. Both set us back and neither are right. Very sad. Fabricated reports do so much more damage to the real victims of hate crimes, making us all suspect until proven otherwise. Mental illness? Yes. Deserving of my sympathy? No.

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 2:04am
  54. and then you wonder why I always question every one I read in the news.

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 3:23am
  55. now that’s stupid, even more stupid, is a woman claiming rape when she was never raped. Be careful of what you do and say. It can have dire consqueunces on people around you. Think , Think before you say or act.

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 3:25am
  56. I’m very sad for you. You need to be a better person and develop some integrity

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 3:50am
  57. I had a feeling

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 4:05am
  58. this is so unhelpful. jeez

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 4:38am
  59. Wow! Really?

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 5:31am
  60. Seriously! You give “gay” a bad name…shame on yourself! >:-

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 5:31am
  61. This is terrible! Unfortunately I have seen this done before. While we may find it hard to trust when someone cries out, we should always take them seriously, because you never know.

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 5:51am
  62. I’m sooo for pitting him in a room of gy bashers and making an honest man out of him. How hard do we work to be taken seriously and he does this shit. not only is this offensive to me as a gay man but it is a smack in the face to all those that have been brutalized and murdered in hate crimes. Shame on you Joseph. I have no sympathy for you.

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 5:54am
  63. Booooo…..

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 5:58am
  64. So are we taking numbers to give this little s*** a REAL bashing?

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 6:35am
  65. I have ALWAYS been the type to put my neck out for those who are bullied or teased , I have always accepted people no matter what their opinions might be , I make choices for the greater good with everyone I hold dear needs in mind , and finally I sign protests and keep up with online campaigns to food causes .

    But THIS shit pisses me off !!!! This is the kind of jerk that makes our community look bad …. One stupid stunt like this sets are progress make and DOES make us look like we cry the victim , something that normally I hate when people say . In this case , it’s so very true .

    I am very disappointed in this little liar . Self inflicted injuries ???? COME ON . Pretty ridiculous .

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 6:36am
  66. Ugh correction**** ” one stupid stunt like this sets our progress back ….” ****

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 6:41am
  67. Btw I take back my birthday wish for you, freaking little punk kid .

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 6:42am
  68. Somebody should kick this guys ass for being stupid!

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 8:12am
  69. This is terrible.

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 8:34am
  70. I do not think he lied to lie on purpose i think he lied to save his ass becasue he could have been threatned

    Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 10:35am