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Former Top
Chef contestant says she was viciously attacked for
being gay

Former Top
            Chef contestant says she was viciously attacked for
            being gay

Gay former Top
Chef
contestant Josie Smith-Malave says she was
attacked by a mob of bargoers screaming antigay slurs
outside an establishment called Partners, nestled in the
affluent seaside town of Sea Cliff, N.Y. Smith-Malave, 32, was
a contestant on Bravo's Top Chef
series last year.

Smith-Malave said
she and a group of six friends had gone to Partners
following a barbecue on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.
She and another woman, Emily Durwood, 30, had been
dancing together inside the bar and had eventually
been asked to leave.

“We were
close—I’m sure we didn’t look
straight,” Smith-Malave told The Advocate.
“My hand was on her hip, my arm around her
shoulder—we definitely looked like lesbians.”

According to her
account, when she, Durwood, and Smith-Malave’s
sister, who is heterosexual, exited the
establishment, they were met by a group of about 12
people, three of whom were women, who began to spit on
them, punch them, and hurl epithets such as “fucking
dyke” and “bush muncher.”

“I’ve never seen anything like this before.
They were jumping out of their skin screaming at
us,” said Smith-Malave. “It was as if we had
done something to their families.”

She said people
inside the bar and employees of the bar did not try to
break up the melee. “I was punched and kicked all
over my body,” she said. “Everyone that
was in the bar, bartenders, they all spilled out the
door of the bar, and when I was able to look around, all of
those people just watched this happen.”

After what
Smith-Malave guessed was about 15 minutes, the group
scattered, though she was not sure why. She speculated it
was because an older couple who lived across the
street had called the police. “They came out
and they were like, ‘I can’t believe that
happened. Things like that never happen here,'”
said Smith-Malave. She could not identify them at the
time of this interview.

When Nassau
County police officers arrived at the scene, Smith-Malave
said they took her account but made no arrests and did not
offer medical treatment. Smith-Malave said she was
left with bruises all over her body and a large bump
on the back of her head—which has not gone
down—and has suffered some hearing loss
since the incident.

Smith-Malave
could not give an exact age of the attackers, other than to
say they looked young to her and the establishment seemed to
cater to a young crowd. “I’m 32, and I
refer to them as kids because they looked
younger—they looked younger than my brother, who is
24.” She added that no one in her party was
carded as they walked in the door.

Smith-Malave said
the police gave no indication that they were going to
investigate further or make any arrests. “I said to
them, ‘What if this was your daughter or your
sister or your wife? Wouldn’t you want to find
these guys?’” said Smith-Malave. “It
wasn’t until they found out my camera was
missing that they started to look at this from a different
perspective.” Smith-Malave’s mini camcorder,
worth about $800, had been taken during the
altercation.

After hearing
nothing from the police for three days, Smith-Malave
contacted attorney Yetta G. Kurland of Kurland, Bonica, and
Associates.

Kurland has since
contacted the sixth precinct of the Nassau County
Police Department. “We have been in touch with local
authorities, and while they acknowledged that the ball
was dropped initially, we are hopefully awaiting
arrests,” said Kurland, who held a press conference
today to call on the police and the district attorney for a
thorough investigation.

“This is
an exclusive, upper-middle-class, mostly white neighborhood
in Nassau County, and these individuals, if they
committed gang assault, should be brought to
justice,” Kurland told The Advocate.
“Bias-related violence is bias-related violence no
matter who does it.”

Detective Lt.
Kevin Smith, spokesperson for the Nassau County Police
Department, said the sixth precinct is conducting a thorough
investigation of the incident and treating it as a potential
hate crime. Gang assault is a class C felony, which if
prosecuted as a hate crime becomes a class B felony
and could carry a sentence of anywhere from five to 25
years.

Kurland has not
yet made plans to file a civil suit on behalf of her
client. “We are just focused on making sure the
criminal matter is handled properly,” she said.
(Kerry Eleveld, The Advocate)

Tags: World, World

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