Image from the surveillance video showing the alleged suspects in the attack. (x)
There have been several updates this week in the story of a couple attacked in Center City, Philadelphia last Thursday night. “Three guys were on me taking turns on me,” the 26-year-old victim told NBC 10.
While most people referred to this story as a hate crime, it can not be classified as one under Pennsylvania law. The ethnic intimidation statute is the law used to prosecute hate crimes in Pennsylvania. It defines ethnic-intimidation offenses as crimes motivated by “malicious intention toward the race, color, religion or national origin” of a person or group. Therefore, sexual orientation-based attacks aren’t considered hate crimes. This has prompted calls for changes to the law and a federal hate crime investigation.
Some of the persons of interest were revealed to be graduates of Archbishop Wood High School. One of them was an assistant basketball coach who resigned after being confronted about the allegations. According to school officials, he would have been fired had he not resigned. “He was not a teacher at the school but serving as a coach on a contract basis,” a school spokesperson said. “We expect all those who work with students in our schools to model appropriate Christian behavior at all times.”
An attorney for the persons of interest claimed the victims threw the first punch. The couple denied this claim, as well as their friend, Caryn Kunkle, who witnessed the attack. “The District Attorney warned the boys that would be a defense strategy,” she told NBC 10. “So they were prepared for that. So I’m not really surprised.”
Geoff Nagle also denied the claim. Nagle witnessed the attack from his apartment window. “I don’t see how it could be self-defense,” he told Philadelphia Magazine. “There were 12 people there. The self-defense thing is a little crazy to me. It wasn’t like a guy just threw a punch to protect himself and ran away. That’s not what happened here. There were multiple punches to the one guy’s face — on both sides of his face.”
“I had three, four guys on me. I turned around and saw his(my boyfriend’s) head hit the ground, like hard,” the 28-year-old victim said. “I was horrified. I thought he was dead.”
La Viola Ovest, the restaurant where the suspects dined prior to the attack, were hit with several negative reviews online after it was rumored they wouldn’t help police. “La Viola is committed to cooperating with authorities in any investigation,” they said in a statement. “We were horrified to learn any of our patrons could have been involved in such a crime. Our thoughts are with the victims and we wish the gentlemen a speedy recovery.”
“I have multiple facial fractures on both sides of my face,” said the 26-year-old victim. “I have an orbital fracture, which is like the eye socket. I had a big laceration that was from the tip of my nose all the way to my lip that was gushing blood.”
“It’s not just us,” said the 28-year-old victim. “I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. It’s not fair.”