A Portland, Ore., man who punched a homeless transgender woman in the face while insulting her race and gender identity said he’s sorry while pleading no contest to a felony bias crime charge.
Dominick Gonzales, 38, who is also homeless, entered his plea Friday in Multnomah County Circuit Court, The Oregonian reports. He was sentenced to 75 days in jail, but he has already been in custody longer than that, so he was expected to be released immediately.
The woman, whose name has not been made public, was waiting in line for free coffee and food September 29 in Portland’s North Park Blocks, a city park, according to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office. Gonzales began yelling at her “for no apparent reason,” notes a press release from the DA’s office. He used racist, homophobic, and transphobic language, the release says; he is Hispanic and the victim is white. He eventually punched her in the face, splitting her lower lip. Gonzales fled on a bicycle, but police caught up with him quickly and arrested him.
In court Friday, Gonzales said he is sorry for attacking the woman. “I wasn’t raised like that, and I do apologize and regret my actions,” he said, according to The Oregonian.
In addition to the jail time, Gonzales was sentenced to three years of probation, and during that time he must undergo mental health and substance abuse evaluations, and follow all treatment recommendations. When he was arrested, he told jailers he had post-traumatic stress disorder and had used methamphetamine, heroin, THC, and alcohol.
“I am troubled by your behavior,” Judge Angel Lopez told Gonzales in court. “Everybody has a right to feel safe in our society and in our community. And it’s not your role to make exceptions, you understand that?”
“Yes, sir,” Gonzales replied.
There were several attacks on trans women in Portland this fall. At least two other incidents occurred in September. Lyft driver Marla Standing-Owl was beaten by a passenger who used anti-trans language toward her, and a few days later Atlas Marshall was assaulted by a group of men in a parking lot, with her attackers also using homophobic and transphobic slurs. Both incidents are being investigated as bias crimes.
Constant reports of violence against our community are difficult to read, especially as we continue to face historic rates. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach out to the Anti-Violence Project’s free bilingual (English/Spanish) national hotline at (212) 714-1141 or report online for support.