The odd saga of a Tennessee couple who accused their neighbor of vandalizing and burning down their house in a hate crime ended this week with them getting the blame.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the verdict that a federal jury issued Monday favors the insurance company — American National Property and Casualty Company — that Carol Ann Stutte and Laura Jean Stutte had filed a claim with. The company accused the women of staging the antigay attack.
Back in 2011, The Advocate first reported on the Stuttes' claim when they filed a lawsuit to get the money. They said that while away in Nashville celebrating their anniversary, someone had set fire to their home in Vonore and painted "Queers" on the side of it. They sought $276,000 for the damage. The two had even tried to enlist GetEqual in a petition campaign to get the insurance company to pay up.
The women pointed to a pattern of antigay harassment by their neighbor, complete with police reports documenting their disputes. They claimed it had all finally boiled over with the neighbor lighting their home on fire.
But they eight-member jury said it was the Stuttes who intentionally set fire to their property, according to Knoxville TV station WBIR. Although the jury said the insurance company proved it was the Stuttes who are responsible for setting the fire, they haven't been charged by police, the News Sentinel reports.