Des Moines man waits two weeks before reporting gay bashing

BY Advocate.com Editors

June 14 2003 12:00 AM ET

Fearing retaliation from his "seriously crazy" attacker, a Des Moines gay man waited more than two weeks before reporting an assault outside a gay bar, the Des Moines Register reports. Michael Moon, 32, linked the attack, in which his leg was broken, to a recent visit to Des Moines by homophobic Kansas minister Fred Phelps and his clan from the Westboro Baptist Church. Moon said his attacker forced him to say that he would leave town and seek God's forgiveness for being gay. "I had to say that to get him off me," Moon said. "The guy who beat me looked crazy, seriously crazy. I was afraid he was going to track me down, track down my family if I reported it."

Moon discussed the May 25 incident with city councilwoman Christine Hensley at a gay pride parade last Sunday, and Hensley persuaded him to go to the police. "I saw he was injured and asked what happened," Hensley said. "He told me, and I asked if he'd gone to the police. He said he hadn't." Sgt. Jack Beardsley said the investigation already has turned up a suspect and that detectives will seek an arrest warrant. The charge is likely to be assault while violating an individual's rights, a felony.

News accounts of Phelps's planned trip to Des Moines were publicized for days prior to the assault. Phelps and his group staged a protest at Lincoln High School's graduation ceremonies on May 31 because the class president, Julius Carter, is openly gay. "I do believe that Fred Phelps might have gotten this guy all worked up," Moon said. "He said, 'Faggots need to get out of town.... You faggots need to find God.'" Moon told police that after he was tackled by the man, he was hit and kicked. "Then he stomped on my leg and broke it near the ankle." A friend carried Moon to a car and took him to a hospital. "My boyfriend was out of town," Moon added. "I was afraid to report it. I'm still terrified."

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