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Today is Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Gay Colorado Teen Awarded $1.22 Million for Hate Crime Attack

[DENVER, CO] - A federal judge in Denver awarded $1.22 million in civil damages on March 13 to an 18-year-old apparent hate crime victim.

Kyle Skyock was found along a back road outside of Rifle, Colorado, two years ago, unconscious and covered with contusions. At the hospital, the gay youth was treated for three broken ribs, a fractured skull, and a burnlike sore on his shoulder, the Rocky Mountain News reported.

Although a local kid bragged about beating up "the Fag," and despite the fact that two doctors characterized Skyock's injuries as the result of assault, District Attorney Mac Myers declined to bring charges, or even to confirm that a crime had been committed. Instead, authorities relied on a third doctor, who suggested Skyock was drunk and fell down an embankment. Indeed, Skyock had been to a party, and had a blood alcohol level of 0.23 when he arrived at the hospital. Nonetheless, the doctor who examined him saw the outline of a two by four on one of his torso bruises, and insisted a fall, no matter how intoxicated, would not produce the kind of damage Skyock sustained.

Skyock and his mother sued two families in civil court, alleging that two pairs of brothers comprised the foursome that beat the teen, smashed him against their SUV, and left him senseless in a gully off U.S. Highway 6. One family settled the case for a reported $11,000, in a deal that did not include an admission of guilt. The other family never showed up at court, and a default judgment was entered against them. The March 13 hearing was to assess the damages owed by no-shows Jane Jennings, and her two sons Bill and Brian June.

After listening to Skyock's testimony, U.S. District Court Judge John Kane awarded $41,000 in medical costs, $700,000 in damages, $250,000 in damages against Bill June, and $240,000 against his brother Brian. Skyock was also awarded court costs, the Rocky Mountain news reports.

According to Michael Brewer of the Colorado Legal Initiatives Project, a GLBT legal advocacy group, the brothers who settled were Canyon Case and Forrest Magnus, along with their father, Gary Case.

According to the Rocky Mountain News, a teenager was heard bragging about the attack on a school bus shortly after the incident.

In making his ruling, Judge Kane did not share the District Attorney's hesitation. "There is no doubt that this is a hate crime," Kane said. "That kind of ignorance and barbaric and brutal attack of any human being is inexcusable." Skyock, now a high school senior, said, "I just want those boys to know they did something wrong and America will take action. This is not going to be tolerated."

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