Lincoln police confirm assault being investigated as a hate crime

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July 22nd, 2012

*Update: The Lincoln Police Department has confirmed it is investigating the assault as a hate crime. Public Information Officer Katie Flood said in an email to NET News the department is releasing few details, but confirmed the homophobic slurs spray painted in the victim’s basement. Flood said the woman, 33, was only able to provide a description of the suspects as three men, wearing masks. She does not believe she knows them. Flood said multiple detectives are working on the case, but releasing too many details could compromise their ability to conduct quality suspect interviews. “The levels of a suspect’s involvement may depend on details known,” Flood said, “rather than what was learned in news reports.”

*Update: An Omaha group is planning its own vigil in honor of the victim Thursday night at Memorial Park. The event, which is being organized through Facebook, had over 600 planned attendees as of 3pm Monday.

Omaha, NE – Over 500 people gathered outside the Nebraska State Capitol Sunday night for a hastily-called candlelit vigil. The crowd was responding to word of a brutal assault of a gay woman in her home. The woman was allegedly stripped and mutilated, and according to reports from the woman’s friends and neighbors, she was deliberately targeted because of her sexual orientation.

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Lincoln police have not confirmed details. But friends say the woman was attacked in her home by three men who had been waiting in her basement. According to people close to the victim, her hands were bound, she was stripped and anti-gay slurs were carved into her body.

Photo slideshow credit: Hilary Stohs-Krause, NET News To view full screen images, click here.

Police have not released her name. But Erin Thompson, a close friend, described what she was told happened next. “They put gasoline on the floor and they lit the match. I think the intent was to burn her,” she said. “Then they left and she managed to get out. She was still bound, so she was crawling on her hands and knees, and she got out the back door.”

The woman crawled to the home of her neighbor, Thompson said, who then called police.

“All of us have a sister who is now hurting, whether you know her or not,” Beth Rigatuso, one of several gay rights activists who attended the vigil, told the crowd, which held rainbow flags, posters and candles on the Capitol steps. “It’s not right,” Rigatuso said. “And it will never, ever … be right.”

Thompson posted word of the attack on Facebook, along with a picture of spray painted words in the victim’s basement that read “We found u Dyke.” News quickly spread through social media and the vigil was planned in a matter of hours. Tyler Richard, president of Outlinc, a gay community center, said the outpouring of support is testament to the strength of Nebraska’s gay community.

“I hope that people walk away and know that … we are not going to stand around and be bullied, not by politicians, not by people who live in the community,” Richard said. “We are a community that will come together, that will rise up and that we will be strong and we will stay strong.”

Richard said the Lincoln Police Department has a long history of reaching out to the LGBT community and he has faith in the department to handle the situation appropriately. Police told KVNO News the victim was treated and released, but have released few other details. No arrests have been made.

27 Responses

  1. chris says:

    they spraypainted “we found you dyke” in her basement. yeah. totally not a hate crime. people suck.

  2. whatthehellareyousmoking says:

    Chris: you nailed that on the head. How in the hell could anyone begin to question that this is a complete hate crime.

  3. susie stern says:

    Mistakes happen. That said, the protester is Beth Rigatuso, not Ritatuso. FYI.

  4. Jim says:

    Absolutely ridiculous acts which should be payed for tenfold!!
    But I cannot sit back and not point out this preposterous phrase, ‘ hate crime’. I firmly believe that phrase is redundant and should be re evaluated. This phrase was put into effect by politicians and certain social leaders to do nothing but push certain groups of people apart, rather than bring them together for the better. Say this woman wasn’t gay? Would it still have been classified as a ‘ hate crime’? No, probably not. If one intends to do bodily harm to someone else, no matter race, religion, sexual orientation, political stance, etc, IT IS, HAS BEEN ALWAYS WILL BE A HATE CRIME! People just gave a name to acts of violence committed towards a minority. And I believe it does the opposite of what we want to get accomplished. Bring people together. The phrase is as absurd as the other phrase i loathe, ‘ reverse racism’. I’m just calling it as I see it folks. And please don’t think I am showing no feelings for this poor woman, because that is not the case by any means. Trust me, I believe the punishment they will get if and when they ever get caught, and strongly hope they do, will fall entirely too short of what they truely deserve. But, you can once again thank PC for societies short comings. Thank you for letting me rant.

  5. Becki says:

    @Jim – your argument is a legitimate one. However, in response to your hypothetical statement, if the woman wasn’t gay, this crime would not have happened! The fact that it occurred simply because the woman IS gay.
    But I agree with your point that any crime (especially one that causes physical or emotional damage to another human being) is driven by hate, and a distinct lack of intellectual capacity. Peace.

  6. Julie says:

    We should do to criminals what they did to their victims. Twice. Then throw them in prison.

  7. A Skeptic says:

    I am sure the victim has had a rough time but this sounds fishy. I believe the victim is making up this crime.

  8. Raja says:

    A skeptical and reasonable person will come to the conclusion that this is a false report. It happens a lot. The victim is going through an emotional time and made up this event. This comment will probably be censored.

    • Lightning Joe says:

      A false report? Let’s see what she would have had to do…

      Pour gas on the floor.

      Spray paint the epithet on her own wall.

      Strip, carve herself with a knife, get rid of the weapon, and then zip-tie herself.

      Crawl to the neighbors on her hands and knees.

      Not to mention (they haven’t mentioned this yet) planting men’s fingerprints everywhere (let’s hope they didn’t wear gloves).

      You say people do things like this “a lot” where you come from? Where do you live? Remind me never to visit; you have a lot of sick people in your neighborhood.

      My own theory? That you see the word “Lesbian,” and think “false accusation.” I don’t think that. I know how cruel people can be to others.

  9. Jim says:

    @ Becki. Well actually in this case, yes it was because she was gay. But do a little research on crimes committed on women. It’s not always because they are gay. Sicko’s target women for all sorts of reasons. Because they are prostitutes, dress too nice, look too petty, look too ugly, remind them of a woman who hurt them previously, and the list goes on. Yes in this case she was targeted for her sexuality, but what about all the other innocent women? Are the crime committed on them less haenous? Of course not. Because that would be absurd. So, really, all I’m asking is for some consistency. Two white men get in a fight because one of them had been with the other man’s wife. (I add this hypothetical scenario because it happens frequently enough, so it’s conceivable.)

  10. Jim says:

    All you have is assault or a murder charge, whatever the final outcome of the scenario is. But change the color of one of the men, keep all the same issues, and now it’s a hate crime. How bout if you make one man Mexican, one guy middle eastern. Doubt there would be any ‘ hate crime’ pushed there. Even though there could very easily be racial driven anger involved. The list could literally go on for days. Every crime committed on another person is a hate crime. Period. No matter what. You have to hate some one to cause physical harm to them.

  11. Jenny Williams says:

    I’m sorry, guys. I’m totally for gay-marriage, gay-rights, gay-everything, but this screams she-did-it-herself syndrome. Very neat spray-paint on the wall. From men who just broke in, zip tied a girl, etc? Zip ties. How convenient. I mean, a rope you’d need someone to tie you up, wouldn’t you? A zip tie you can do yourself with. And if you really hated someone, wouldn’t you do more than superficial marks to the skin? You’d really dig in, right? Then they half-assed their arson and bolted? Really? This has happened before. (Example, Jewish girl who carved a swastika on her door a year or so ago for attention.) Go on, dislike this, rant on me: wait a few weeks and I assure you this will come out as a hoax or self-inflicted.

  12. Mike says:

    This is a fake. You know how I know? Because the “attackers” spray painted “We got U dyke” on the wall. I don’t think thugs would use “u” instead of “you”. This sort of thing happens very frequently. The “victim” knows they will get attention and likely MONEY in the form of donations.

    FAKE FAKE FAKE

  13. Ivan Ivanovich says:

    If this is true and not faked then it’s truly horrible. Speedy recovery to the victim and may police find the brutes and lock them up for good.

    A few thoughts on the overall subject and situation:

    - Things like this happen to any group. All the time. That is an unfortunate reality. In no way this is to minimize the seriousness of the crime (if it is true), but to imply that G&Ls are somehow unique in this is to be disingenuous.

    - Zealous G&L’s activists and their allies with an aggressive campaign of Chritophobic, Islamophobic and Judaismophobic hatred, faked UNO research supporting “discrimination”, demonization of anyone who had an opposing view or simply wanted to have a discussion, have alienated NE community. Personally for me these tactics are uncomfortably similar to Soviet propaganda makers. This is a ‘Pavlik Morozov’ movement if you will.

    - Such strategy combined with the timing of this event, naturally brings up people’s suspicions. Given a recent spike of faked anti-gay crimes perpetuated by gays themselves, complete with “branding” of anti gay slur, “hateful” notes, etc, etc, this story unfortunately plays into the pattern.

    - Advise to G&L activists. If you continue to strong arm the issue, you might have a temporary victory. But you will loose the war. You may have already lost it, but any chance that remains is in having open and a rational discussion. Otherwise people will truly start hating you, not because you are gay, but because you are behaving like Soviet apparatchiks.

    P.S.: notice the many new creatives uses of the word ‘phobia’ now that G&L activists, thru labeling anyone who disagrees with them a ‘homophobe’, changed its underlying idea from ‘irrational fear’ to ‘disagreement’.

  14. Steph says:

    It is nice to know that after what this poor woman has been through you all have the need to be so disrespectful because, given she was a member of the LGBT community, it strongly indicates she would make all of this up? I live here and I attended the Vigil mentioned above and everyone there that night was in shock! If this was someone who wasn’t part of the LGBT community, it wouldn’t even be questioned. It is good that in hard times like this people like you can bring your IGNORANCE to the fore-front for the rest of the world to see. I guess you think that maybe what happened in Aurora, CO last Friday morning was, what a conspiracy too??? COME ON GET WITH REALITY, NOT EVERY SINGLE THING THAT HAPPENS ANYMORE IS BECAUSE OF SOME POLITICAL AGENDA!!! THERE ARE SICK SICK PEOPLE OUT THERE!!! It is DISGUSTING that you would say this after what our community and this individual has been through. Maybe, think to yourself, given this is an on-going investigation, maybe that is why not much information has been released, and maybe it is also out of respect for this victim’s privacy. Hmm . . .did that thought cross your IGNORANT minds??? USE YOUR HEAD!!!

  15. Ivan Ivanovich says:

    Dear Steph,

    This is precisely the problem I talked about earlier. Not to mention all caps (screaming). Allow me to break down your charges if you don’t mind.

    You:
    - say that she’s questioned only because she’s a member of G%L community. And supposedly that would not be the case if she wasn’t a gay. But victims are questioned in all kinds of crimes every day, sometimes correctly, sometimes not. So as alone G&Ls may feel they are not that unique in this.

    - accuse others of ignorance but you seem to be ignorant of the fact that fake anti-gay crimes committed by gays themselves are on the rise. L&G community, as you demonstrate so nicely, unfortunately automatically assumes that those are always real. Obviously, whether it is the case here or not remains to be seen.

    - insult people, by a blank assumption the only reason they may disagree with you is ignorance.

    - accuse people for assuming that she faked it, while yourself assuming that she didn’t. As you said, the investigation is ongoing.

    Echoing many here, if this is true I hope they lock up the brutes for good, if not, she should go to jail.

    Good day to you.

  16. Chris says:

    I’m sorry but she faked this herself or may of even had help. Strait or gay this is just an attempt to garner media attention.

    What motive would 3 “men” (how did she know they where all men if they had masks on?) have to get up in the middle of the night,
    dress up in matching movie “bugler” attire abuse some woman in her home then try to burn it down by igniting a small pool of gas
    on a kitchen floor? Arson? Robbery? Rape? Car theft? No, just graffiti. This is just not something 3 crooks or even sickos would
    get together to do.

    I hope the police press charges against her once they can prove she did this herself.

  17. SL says:

    Definitely sounds like a hate crime and to pull from a crime that took place TWENTY years ago, just proves it’s RARE any crimes happen against the LBGT community unless of course, it is FAKE. She’ll be busted for sure.

  18. Steph says:

    Well I guess we will just see then. I call you ignorant because this is a disheartening issue for Lincoln right now. I don’t post things like this because you rre insulting people by saying they “faked” it. Because she was brave and saved herself that makes her a liar??? I think there has been proof which has come out in evidence that these men did target her because she was working with kids, so with that, yes they most likely knew who she was, but that in no way says this is in your words “fake” The reason this is getting attention right now is because we don’t want things like this to continue. If you stand by and let something happen, turn your head and do nothing, you are enabling that issue to continue on. We don’t want that. I typed in all CAPS and because it breaks my heart and angers me, to know what this girl and her loved ones are going through right now, so to read something like this, where you are clearly placing blame on the victim for “lying” is wrong and disrespectful at a time like this. The other thing I would like to bring up, no witnesses isn’t uncommon when it comes to crimes committed, sorry but that happens all the time. If the woman was alone in her home, there wouldn’t be any witnesses. She wasn’t out in public for all to see. I commend her for her brave survival methods and feel ashamed that everyone just “assumes” everything yet knows so little. Right now this is a ‘crime” on the victim not some “hoax” and until it comes out any different you jumping to a very, over-exaggerated and over-reacted conclusion. Thank you and also good day to you.

  19. Ivan Ivanovich says:

    P.P.S:

    What is the point in painting anti-gay message if one intends to burn down the house?

  20. Steph says:

    Oh you guys are entertaining and I am not playing into it anymore. You are wayyyyy over-thinking it. I don’t know their intentions, and, quite frankly, neither do you. Questioning everything about it, you are talking yourself into believing your own unjustified assumptions. Go ahead say she “faked” it. I don’t know you, nor do I care. I am going to stand behind my community here in Lincoln and support because that is what they need right now. Have fun “assuming” whatever and living in your own little bubble. I truly hope nothing like this happens to anyone you or anyone you care about, but if it does maybe you will realize how offensive it is.

  21. Steph says:

    “you or anyone you know”

  22. Jim says:

    Well put Ivan. All of it!
    And Steph, the idea that it was a hoax never even came to my mind once, until reading later posts on here. But you are very right, there are some extraordinarily sick people out there. So just remember that. It wouldn’t be surprising if it were a hoax, or equally truth. We all know how insane our fellow man can be. All one can do is speculate until we DO know all the facts. Question everyone and everything.

  23. Stephanie says:

    I don’t know if the crime scares me more or the comments I read here do. It’s amazing that after reading this short description so many people know exactly what happened in that house. Be careful accusing people of things or you may find some day you are on the other side of that equation. People are more than capable of attacking others for stupid reasons-or no reason at all! Colorado anyone? I suppose that audience must have faked that as well. I don’t know what happened in that house, but I can imagine being the victim of a vicious attack and being doubted and accused of attacking myself…I will be at the Omaha vigil Thursday.

  24. Ivan Ivanovich says:

    Dear Stephanie,

    I would like to ask you a question, if I may. You:

    - openly state that you don’t know what happened inside the house and
    - warn people not to accuse anyone without knowing what exactly happened in the house

    Your words and going to the vigil indicate that you:

    - believe the story the woman told, thus supporting woman’s accusations against someones, while
    - not knowing, [as you said], exactly what happened in house

    In other words you do the very thing that you warn other people not to do. Could you please explain why?

  25. Ivan Ivanovich says:

    Thank you kindly Jim.

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