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Salt Lake City DA Files Charges in Alleged Hate Crime

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The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office has filed charges against seven individuals accused of physically assaulting two men in an alleged bias-motivated crime.

According to Salt Lake City Weekly, on July 5, 2008, DJ Bell, an openly gay man, claims he heard a knock at his door. Upon answering, Bell says he discovered a neighbor’s 2 year-old child and that child’s 4 year-old cousin. Before Bell could contact his neighbor about the wandering children, he heard screams from next door and was approached by his livid neighbor who accused him of kidnapping the two toddlers. Multiple suspects, presumed to be related to the mother, then broke into Bell’s home and severely beat him and his partner, Dan Fair. Bell suffered multiple head wounds, laceration of his throat and toe, and a loss of hearing in his right ear as a result of the brutal attack.

Bell and Fair allege that anti-gay bias is at the root of the assault.

Initially, Salt Lake City Police arrested Bell on charges of kidnapping. In a trial, however, jurors were not convinced, reportedly saying that the wrong person was on trial.

That jury later acquitted Bell of all charges.

Now, nearly 2 years later, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office has filed a total of sixteen charges against the seven suspects accused of physically assaulting Bell and Fair.

Bell’s attorney Susanne Gustin celebrated the DA’s decision on Tuesday, telling a local ABC affiliate, “These are very serious charges against them… David feels that justice is now being served and they’ve waited a long time for this day.”

GLAAD will continue to follow the media’s coverage of this case. Updates can be found on GLAADblog.org