FBI asked to help investigate possible hate crimes against 2 women
ADA, Okla. Attacks on two women that have alarmed Ada’s gay community have prompted local authorities to ask the FBI to help investigate a possible hate crime.
The victims claim they were attacked because of their sexual orientation. In one incident, “lesbian” was carved into a woman’s left forearm. In another, a woman said she was blindfolded and bound to a tree. “Hellbound” was written deeply in pen across her chest.
Members of the Gay-Straight Alliance, a community organization based at East Central University, rallied Tuesday, Dec. 12, hoping to raise awareness of attacks on members of the gay community. “We just want the students to come together and stand up as a group,” said Christine Pappas, an assistant professor of political science at East Central and adviser to the Gay-Straight Alliance. “This is clearly targeting gay people, leaving messages carved into their bodies. It’s just very disturbing.”
Sarah Kaspereit, 20, said she was coming home from work when two men jumped out of a black truck, threw her down and carved “lesbian” into her left forearm, according to an account she gave police. “We just want to raise awareness that stuff like this is going on in small towns,” said Kaspereit, who is still on crutches from injuries suffered in the Dec. 4 attack. “There are sick people out there who would do this to a human being. Sexual preference aside, we are still human.”
Ada police still are investigating the attack, said spokesman Mark Bratcher.
“We’ve also called in the FBI. They have more knowledge about these kinds of things, since they have a hate crimes unit,” he said. “We’re treating it very seriously.”
FBI spokesman Gary Johnson said the bureau was aware of the incident and was evaluating it.
Police have interviewed Kaspereit’s neighbors who say they didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary Dec. 4. One neighbor told police his front windows were open the night of the attack and he “didn’t see or hear anything.”
“A lot of people don’t think the stories add up,” said Kaspereit. “It hurts that people think this would be a scam. It’s not made up. It really happened. If they want to live life in my shoes and experience the nightmares I have, they are more than welcome to.”
Kaspereit is the second woman in a month to claim to be targeted because of her sexual orientation. Brenda Johnson said she woke up blindfolded and tied to a tree after being attacked Nov. 28.
Johnson, 20, said she had taken a walk into the woods near her rural Pontotoc County home and was reading when she was hit from behind and knocked out. When she awoke, Johnson said, she had been tied up with her undershirt and “hellbound” was written on her chest. She said she was able to reach her cell phone and call a friend. Her friend called Johnson’s mother, who came and untied her and took her to the hospital.
“I don’t even flaunt my sexuality,” Johnson said. “I don’t have any enemies that I know of.”
Johnson, who hasn’t filed a report with police, said the incident wasn’t taken seriously when she went to the hospital and later law enforcement seemed uninterested in her story.
“I might have filed a report if I had been treated better,” Johnson said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 15, 2006