Four of the seven people charged in the 2008 beating of a Utah gay man in his home after accusing him of kidnapping two children received prison sentences this week. Ieti Mageo, Ieti Nuusila, and Ricky Peace were sentenced to several prison terms of zero to five years after pleading guilty to third-degree felony assault, burglary and rioting. Tapululululu “Lulu” Latu, the mother of one of the children, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of attempted rioting and was sentenced to a year in prison with 2 years probation. All four attackers were ordered to collectively pay $15,000 in restitution to the victim, David Bell. Bell and his partner were viciously beaten in their home by the attackers following a Fourth of July party. Bell suffered head injuries, laceration of the throat and toe, and hearing loss in his right ear. Despite the claims of his attackers, Bell says he was beaten because he is gay. The children that Bell was accused of kidnapping had gone to his house of their own accord after wandering the party unsupervised, and were removed from the house before the attack. A jury found Bell not guilty of the kidnapping charges in 2009.
GLAAD has been following coverage of this trial for some time. We ask that our constituents watch out for media coverage that downplays the severity of the attack and implies that it was motivated entirely by the alleged kidnappings. The irresponsible actions of the anti-gay industry in perpetuating erroneous and defamatory claims about LGBT people and children should not be repeated. Numerous sources report that the children were out of the picture when these crimes against David Bell were perpetrated. It is unfortunate enough that Bell was brutally attacked without the potential of media coverage spreading inaccuracies about his case.