MESQUITE, Texas — A Texas woman claims she is the victim of a hate crime after she was attacked in an elementary school playground for protecting a bullied four-year-old boy.
The attack left Sondra Scarber, 27, with a shattered jaw that’s been wired shut, and a is badly swollen and bruised face.
“I can’t do anything for myself,” she said through tears.
Scarber said that she and her girlfriend Hillary Causey, 26, had taken Causey’s four-year-old son out to play at the playground when a scuffle broke out between Causey’s son and some older children.
Scarber had asked one of the other children who was bigger to leave Causey’s son alone when one of the other parents stepped in. The women told police officials that the man became angry when he realized that Scarber, who wears her hair short and dresses in nondescript baggy clothes, was female and that the couple are lesbians.
“When he walked up thinking it was father and mom with the kid, he wasn’t as angry,” said Causey, in an interview with WFAA-TV. “But then when he figured out she [Scarber] was a female, he got like super pissed, and I don’t know why.”
Causey said the man punched and kicked Scarber repeatedly, hurling homophobic slurs at her while she lay on the ground, unconscious.
“He was like, ‘well if you think you’re a man… I’m going to treat you like a man,’” Causey said. “All she kept saying was, ‘I’m a female. I’m a female…’ She never even had time to take her hands out of pockets to try and block herself.”
Mesquite Police Lieutenant Bill Hedgpeth said that investigators are not certain that under Texas statutes the assault qualifies as a hate crime, as the scuffle among children was the initial trigger.
“At this point, we have no indication the assault occurred because of her sexual orientation,” he said adding, “regardless of motive, we want to catch them.”
Based on the women’s account, law enforcement officials are looking for two suspects — the alleged assailant, and the woman he was with.
Scarber and Causey, who have been friends since the third grade, and girlfriends for three years, are convinced the attack was a hate crime, and are frustrated with what they feel is the police department’s lack of urgency with their case.