CORINTH, Miss. — A Mississippi man accused of brutally beating a gay man says the attack was not a hate crime, and that the victim had threatened to expose his sexual orientation.
James Scott told WREG-TV he was a closeted bisexual man prior to the incident, and that his victim, Devin Norman, threatened to let others know he liked men.
Scott is charged with the attack outside a Walmart in Corinth, Miss., on March 20.
Police say that after a few words were exchanged between the two, Scott threw Norman to the ground and kicked him several times in the face.
Norman, who suffered facial swelling and a broken cheek bone, says the assault was an anti-gay hate crime.
Police chief Ralph Dance said the two men had talked and texted each other previously, and exchanged photographs of each other over the internet.
Article continues belowScott claims that Norman had planned to “out” him by posting the photos and messages on Facebook, leading to the altercation.
“When he turned on me, my first reaction was to protect myself, and it went too far,” Scott said. “I should have know better. I should have been more of an adult. I should have thought before I acted.”
Dance said the original charge against Scott was simple assault, but due to the fact he broke bones, charges would be upgraded to aggravated assault.
Dance said the attack does not appear to be a hate crime, but that information in the case has been turned over the to FBI, as Mississippi’s hate crimes law does not cover sexual orientation or gender identity.