SALT LAKE CITY — Prosecutors say they are considering hate crime charges in the December beating of two gay men in Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said Wednesday that he takes seriously allegations that the two men were attacked because of their sexual orientation, and his office is reviewing the assault case.
The victims say two men yelled gay slurs and made explicit sexual references before punching them and throwing them to the ground on Dec. 21.
Rusty Andrade says he was outside his home saying goodbye to friend Maxwell Christen after a holiday party when two men appeared and attacked them.
“They started calling us faggots … one of them pushed Rusty and then they hit both of us,” Christen said. “It was just quick.”
Among the slurs was a lewd question about oral sex, Andrade said.
Andrade said he was knocked to the ground and pinned by one man who hit him repeatedly in the face. The 24-year-old Christen, who is a Salt Lake Community College student, said he was also punched several times in the face before he was grabbed around the neck and thrown to the ground.
That’s when Christen’s boyfriend, Taylor Lamont, who also lives in the complex and had been parking his car, said he heard someone yelling gay slurs and ran out of his garage to see Christen on the ground. Lamont said he grabbed one man in a bear hug from behind and pulled him away from Christen, who then jumped up and tried to help free Andrade.
A bouncer from the nearby nightclub, Club Jam, also heard the fight from across the street and came to their aid.
Police said the two suspects, who are from Wyoming, returned to the scene to search for a lost wallet about the same time a patrol officer arrived in response to a 911 call. The men were questioned by police, but both men said they couldn’t remember any fight.
There have been no arrests in the case, but Gill said his office is reviewing police reports to determine what charges might be supported by the evidence.