Karen Ocamb

Alabama DA Says Beating of Lesbian Not a Hate Crime

Filed By Karen Ocamb | November 28, 2012 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Alabama, hate crimes against LGBT people, HRC, Mallory Owens, Regions Bank

Mallory-Owens.jpgMobile, Alabama District Attorney Ashley Rich told WKRG that law enforcement is following up on the brutal beating of Mallory Owens allegedly by her girlfriend's 18 year old brother on Thanksgiving day. "We've got this," Rich said. "We're on top of this, and we're making sure that the case is proceeding down the criminal path." However, Lauren Vargas reports: "Rich says she has no reason to call it a hate crime at this point in the investigation." Alabama reported no hate crimes for all of 2011.

On Sunday, Mobile police arrested 18-year-old Travis Hawkins Jr. on the second degree assault charges; he made bond soon thereafter. He's accused of beating Mallory so badly she had to have metal plates put in her cheekbones with reconstructive surgery. According to WKRG, Hawkins attacked Mallory with a pipe wrench earlier this year but no charges were filed.

Mallory's mother Kristi Taylor thinks the beating is a hate crime and she wants the charges increased. She told the TV station: "He tried to kill her. He's lucky he didn't kill her. She's lucky to be alive...I didn't recognize her when I got here. It's hard to look at her like that."

WKRG reports that Mallory has no health insurance - however a fund has been set up to help pay her medical bills at any Regions Bank. According to Evelyn Mitchell of Regions Corporate Communications, "An assistance fund has been set up to benefit Mallory N. Owens," and the public can go to regions.com to find a bank or "call 1-800-REGIONS for information on locations or bank by mail donations." Here's the website for bank locations in the Mobile area. (UPDATE - Please be advised that the donations are excepted in person or by mail, though Regions is looking into the possibility of calling in a contribution.)

Meanwhile, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin released the following statement regarding the beating:

Our thoughts and prayers are with Mallory Owens and her family as she recovers from the horrific injuries she sustained on Thanksgiving Day. Violence against anyone - no matter what the motivation - is never acceptable. We call on both Alabama and federal law enforcement officials to thoroughly and swiftly investigate this crime to ensure Mallory's attacker is brought to justice."

Living openly as an LGBT person in America takes a tremendous amount of courage, and moments like this remind us of the obligation we have to continue creating safer environments - particularly for vulnerable LGBT youth. No one who is brave enough to be open and honest in their local community should ever fear for their well-being or personal safety.

HRC has reached out to the Department of Justice and the FBI to urge them to investigate the incident and provide any needed assistance to local law enforcement. Alabama has no hate crime protections that cover sexual orientation and gender identity.

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