A North Texas high school student faces reconstructive surgery after he was severely beaten at a party by attackers who believed he was gay, law officers say.
The 17-year-old's injuries in Cleburne earlier this month are under investigation as a hate crime because the three attackers uttered antigay slurs, police sergeant Amy Knoll said Tuesday. Three teenagers were arrested in the October 3 attack, which left the Cleburne High School senior with broken bones in his face. "We have found no other reason whatsoever for the attack other than their belief that he was a homosexual," Knoll told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Wednesday's editions.
The unidentified victim told investigators that as he arrived at an apartment for the party, one of three men standing outside asked him about his sexual orientation. According to Knoll, the victim ignored them and told friends accompanying him that they should leave. "As he was talking to them, the three suspects came up behind him and began hitting and kicking him in the face," said Knoll. "They continued to use slurs and such things during the assault." She said several young women tried to stop the attack, which began around midnight, but the victim was later able to escape.
The next morning, the victim went to the police department after his mother took him to the hospital to have his injuries examined, said Knoll. Police told the newspaper that they arrested Christopher Lathers, 18; Cory Gibson, 17; and Billy Calahan, 19, on charges of aggravated assault with bodily injury, a second-degree felony. Gibson and Calahan remained jailed early Wednesday, while Lathers was released on $25,000 bail on October 8.
Cleburne school district spokeswoman Lisa Magers said that Lathers attended TEAM School, the district's alternative school for students who are academically behind. The other suspects did not attend schools in Cleburne, a town located about 30 miles south of Fort Worth. Lathers was assigned to the Johnson County Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program for 45 days. "It is always a sad occurrence when a child is injured, and it's even harder to bear when the injury is suspected of being intentional," said Magers.