Colorado teen awarded $1.22 million after attack

BY Advocate.com Editors

March 15 2003 1:00 AM ET

A federal judge said an attack on a Colorado gay teenager was a "damnable" hate crime and awarded him $1.22 million in damages Thursday. Kyle Skyock, 18, was found along U.S. Highway 6 on February 11, 2001, near Rifle, Colo., after a night of heavy drinking with four other youths.

During a hearing before U.S. district court judge John Kane to determine damages in a civil lawsuit, Skyock described how four boys kicked and beat him, banged his head on the back of an SUV, and hit him with a baseball bat. "I didn't think I was going to make it," the 5-foot 4-inch, 125-pound Skyock said. "I thought my lung was punctured because it stung when I breathed." Skyock sustained a fractured skull, bruising, three broken ribs, and a burnlike sore on his left shoulder. Skyock and his parents, Michael and Sharlene, testified Thursday about the medical costs and emotional trauma that resulted from the attack.

Kane, who looked at several photos showing a battered Skyock, made several statements before awarding the damages. "There is no doubt this is a hate crime," Kane said. "That kind of ignorance
and barbaric and brutal attack of any human being is inexcusable." Kane said he wished he could do more for Skyock.

"I just want those boys to know they did something wrong and that America will take action," Skyock said outside of court after the hearing. "This is not going to be tolerated."

Comatose for three days, Skyock initially told police he couldn't remember what happened, and police surmised that Skyock had rolled down a hill near the highway. Investigators looked into criminal charges after a teenager on a school bus bragged about beating "the fag." Prosecutors later refused to file criminal charges against his alleged attackers citing lack of evidence. District Attorney Mac Myers, who investigated the case, did not respond to a phone message.

Skyock has requested a special prosecutor to look into criminal charges. Skyock's family reached an out-of-court settlement with two of his attackers, both brothers, in January, according to Kane. Thursday's judgment was entered against another set of brothers, Bill and Brian June, and their mother, Jane Jennings.

Kane's award included $41,000 for medical costs, $700,000 in damages, $250,000 against Bill June, and $240,000 against Brian June. Kane also awarded court costs. The brothers and their mother did not respond to the lawsuit. Thursday's hearing was a default judgment hearing in which one side presented unchallenged testimony. Michael Brewer, director of the Colorado Legal Initiatives Project, said the other alleged attackers are Canyon Case and Forrest Magnus. During the court hearing, Skyock lawyer Julie Tolleson said they had settled with those brothers and their father, Gary Case, for $11,000. Brewer said the settlement did not include an admission of guilt.

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