CORINTH, Miss. — People across the Mid-South are questioning if a gay man who was attacked is the victim of a hate crime.
James Scott admitted brutally attacking Devin Norman, who had swollen eyes and a busted lip.
“They’re trying to make it seem that I was screaming *bleep* which was not true. Not at all,” Scott said about allegations of using a homophobic slur.
“The victim was very badly beaten. Had some facial scars and bruises to his face,” Chief Ralph Dance with the Corinth Police Department said.
Chief Dance reported Scott beat and bloodied Norman at a Walmart parking lot in Corinth, Mississippi, Friday.
“They talked, they texted each other back and fourth,” Chief Dance said. “They’d actually sent some photographs of each other back and fourth.”
“He told me that he was going to take those same pictures of me and those messages that he had saved and post them on Facebook,” Scott said.
Scott told WREG he was a closeted bisexual man before this incident happened and claimed Norman threatened to let people know he liked men.
“When he turned on me, my first reaction was to protect myself, and it went too far,” Scott said.
Witnesses said Scott whaled or Norman and kicked him in the face about six times.
Norman and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) activists consider the attack a hate crime.
“I cannot see how it could be a hate crime,” Scott told WREG. “I don’t even have an emotional hatred for him. The only thing I dislike about it was that he took something from me.”
“It’s my understanding of if it’s a hate crime it had to be based merely on the fact he was homosexual,” Chief Dance said. “We don’t have that here.”
Hate crime or not, Scott admitted it was wrong to leave anyone in the condition Norman is in.
“I should have know better. I should have been more of an adult. I should have thought before I acted,” Scott said.
The charges against Scott will likely be upgraded from simple assault to aggravated assault after police found out the victim had broken bones.
WREG contacted the victim and people close to him several times, but no one has returned our phone calls or e-mails.
The Corinth Police Department turned information on the case over to the FBI.
An FBI spokesperson issued the following statement:
“The FBI has been made aware of the allegations surrounding this incident, and appropriate investigative action is being taken to determine whether a violation of federal law has occurred.”