Police continue investigating Delaware gay bashing

By admin

Originally published on Advocate.com August 20 2004 11:00 PM ET

Rehoboth Beach, Del., police are continuing to investigate what appears to be a gay bashing of three gay men in the resort town in the early hours of August 7. One of the victims, 23-year-old Matt Beierschmitt, was featured on MTV's documentary program True Life: I'm Coming Out as well as on the cover of The Advocate in 2002.

In an e-mail to Advocate.com, Beierschmitt said he and two friends--Lawrence Franchetti, 26, and Will Hiley, 30--were exiting a club when three men approached them, allegedly calling them "Taliban" and "faggots." "They followed us to our car, and while [we] were inside, they kicked it," he said. "We got out to talk to them, and they apologized for their one friend's drunken behavior."

However, when the three turned to go back to their car, "someone pushed me from behind, and that is the last thing I remember before I woke up spitting up blood," Beierschmitt said. "My friends turned around to see me lying on the ground. I was taken away in an ambulance." Hiley was allegedly struck with a lead pipe.

According to the Delaware Coast Press, one of the men, Vincenzo Didomenicis, was arrested. The other two men were unidentified. Rehoboth police chief Keith Banks told the newspaper that he has put a detective on the case to follow up on the incident. After the investigation is closed, Banks will make a decision about whether the issue constitutes a hate crime. "We take assaults and fights very seriously," Banks told the paper. "It's better to slow down and dot i's and cross t's."

Beierschmitt said his jaw was broken in two places and will remain wired shut four to five weeks. He has contacted the gay rights advocacy group Lambda Legal for advice on filing a civil lawsuit.

The newspaper reported that Rehoboth commissioner Mark Aguirre questioned Banks about the investigation at Monday night's regular meeting of the Rehoboth city commissioners. Aguirre said Tuesday, "I want to make sure that those involved in causing this incident are not given a slap on the wrist. I understand that before a deeper investigation [is conducted] the perpetrator needed to be charged with disorderly conduct, but what went on here goes beyond disorderly conduct and should be at least aggravated assault," he said.