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in the news/4
Volume 16/Issue 15

South Carolina Bash Victim
Charged With Hoax

A Lesbian severely injured in repeated assaults, who became the very symbol of the movement for hate crimes legislation in South Carolina, is now charged with having staged one of those beatings herself. Lancaster County Sheriff John Cauthen said July 14 that charges of giving false information to a police officer were being prepared against Regan Wolf, who lived almost her entire life in the rural county before relocating this year in fear of further attacks. Conviction could be penalized with a month in jail and a $200 fine. Wolf turned herself in July 15 after hearing of the charges and was released without having to pay bail. Her attorney told reporters that Wolf stood by her previous descriptions of events and that, "She's a victim twice of two serious, really offensive crimes resulting in serious injuries to her and, in a sense, this is a third injury to her." American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina executive director Steven Bates noted that, "Law enforcement has spent more time and resources investigating the victim than in tracking down suspects."

The charges are based on the testimony of an unidentified male friend of Wolf's, who reportedly told the State Law Enforcement Division that she went with him to the store to purchase gloves, spray paint and a belt, and paid him $50 to whip her back with the belt as part of staging a Dec. 26, 1997 attack at her mobile home in the small town of Buford. The state also says its forensics experts decided from photos of her injuries that they were consistent with her willing participation. It has not been reported whether the state intends a similar challenge to Wolf 's second serious attack on May 13, 1998, although officials told the Associated Press that they also believed it to be a hoax even though the man from the Dec. event was not involved in it. Both he and Wolf are reported to have passed lie-detector tests.

In the Dec. 26 incident, Wolf was found by her mother, Dr. Jackie Adams, who owns and lives on the same lot where Wolf 's mobile home was sited, and came over when she heard a faint cry for help. In 28-degree weather, Wolf was shirtless and hanging suspended spread-eagled from the rafters above her porch by nylon ropes on her wrists and ankles whose knots tightened if she struggled, and painted on the porch were the words, "Jesus weren't born for you, faggot." Wolf had been visibly beaten on the back, and said she had been hit on the back of her head by a man and blacked out. Police reports said she had suffered one blow to the back of her head from a blunt object and that there were raised welts, cuts and bruises on her back, which might have been made by a carpenter's belt.

Adams, Wolf and Wolf's partner, Jenna Wolf, were so dissatisfied with the police investigation of this incident that they complained to public officials and hired an attorney. Wolf, widely known for more than 25 years as a Lesbian, had already suffered previous assaults at other locations. On Feb. 28, she reported to police being punched outside a convenience store by a man yelling "faggot," whom she was able to escape after kicking him in the groin. Three weeks later, she reported a truck she'd seen at that scene driving past her home with the driver yelling, "You're dead, faggot. It's only a matter of time."

The second incident at the mobile home occurred May 13. Again, she said she was hit on the back of the head or neck by a man and blacked out. Jenna found her two hours later, barely conscious, again suspended spread-eagle from porch rafters, oozing blood from more than a dozen slash marks on her back. She had to visit several doctors for treatment for injuries which would take months to heal. The slashes were described as second and third degree penetration, meaning wounds raw to the bone; she had bruising all over her body and to major organs as well.

Neurologist Howard Mandell described damage to her sensory nerves from the ropes, causing continuing numbness in her fingers, plus pain and severe muscle spasms in her neck and back. He told Columbia's State newspaper last month that, "The injuries are quite severe. They're grotesque, sickening, shocking. I've been in medicine 20 years, and I've never seen anything as gross that was intentionally inflicted on someone." He added that, "It doesn't take a medical doctor to see that these marks couldn't be self-induced. You'd need at least two or three very strong people."

The State article also foreshadowed the current charges, saying, "Most folks in Buford know of Regan Wolf-and her sexual orientation-but don't know her personally. Several interviewed said they doubted Wolf was telling the truth about the attacks-though they had no proof. "You know that type of people," said one store owner, who wouldn't give his name. "They got a mind of their own...." Regan and Jenna Wolf and Jackie Adams weren't surprised some people didn't believe them, because, they said, "that's the culture of Lancaster County."

And as for the "friend" who has now testified against her, Wolf told the State that, aside from the women she's dated, she's only had two friends her entire life. [Newsplanet]


McVeigh Leaves The Navy

Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Tim McVeigh on July 14 left his posting in Hawaii and headed for his home in Jacksonville, FL to await the discharge papers ending his outstanding 18-year career. After the Navy attempted to discharge him for homosexuality based on the "Gay" content of the profile associated with one of his America Online screen names, he filed a lawsuit that became the first ever to find that a branch of the military service had violated the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Both the Navy and America Online were also found to have violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. America Online, which had confirmed for an investigator the connection between McVeigh and the screen name, revised its policies and paid McVeigh an undisclosed settlement; the federal government agreed to pay McVeigh's $90,000 legal fees and allow him an early retirement with full benefits.

McVeigh would have preferred to complete 25 years in the Navy if he could have returned to something like the work he did before the allegations were raised, serving as Chief of the Boat (top enlisted man) on a fast-attack nuclear submarine. Instead, he was first assigned some menial tasks and then moved into desk jobs, first as a librarian and most recently handling training assignments. However, he says that co-workers continued to treat him well, except for a few senior officers in the submarine squadron. He spoke of his case in mild terms to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, saying, "I think the Navy has been fairly pig-headed. I just got set up and this thing just kept getting passed up the line and no one stopped to look at it."

McVeigh has some speaking appearances scheduled for Sept. and Oct. and says he plans to write a book about his experience. Once the discharge is complete, perhaps McVeigh can finally "tell" one way or the other--throughout the trials and the attendant heavy media coverage, McVeigh has held strictly to the regulation and neither denied nor confirmed being Gay. [Newsplanet]


"Hostile Climate" Documented

The People For the American Way Foundation recently released "Hostile Climate," 1998 Edition, its fifth annual compendium of anti-Gay activity in the U.S. The report documents and analyzes 170 incidents in 1997 from 40 states plus Washington, DC and Puerto Rico, as well as those which are national in scope, dividing them into categories of education, employment, marriage and family, arts and entertainment, religion, and general intolerance. People For lays responsibility for the "hostile climate" squarely on religious conservatives, finding Religious Right organizations directly involved in close to 40 percent of the incidents described, and saying in its press release, "A nationwide campaign of organized intolerance led by the Religious Right, often supported by local clergy and public officials, is denying equal rights to Americans who are singled out for discrimination based on their sexual orientation."

People For President Carole Shields adds that, "The Religious Right has poisoned the public dialogue about Gay and Lesbian rights and, as a result, our public discussion of these issues is often stuck in the dark ages. Where we should all be seeking to bring justice and equality to all Americans, the Religious Right is instead playing a destructive game of blaming the victims of anti-Gay and Lesbian discrimination."

The hot spots geographically in People For's collection are California with 14 incidents, North Carolina with 11, Massachusetts with 10, and Washington state with 9, together comprising almost one-fourth of the incidents reviewed. Education was by far the most common area for intolerance, from harassment of students to school board politics to Religious Right condemnation of Debra Chasnoff's film, It's Elementary: Teaching About Gay Issues in School as "cynically recruiting a new generation to become homosexuals." What People For called "a disturbing number of incidents" involved improper actions by public officials, from "blatant demagoguery" to extortion attempts by police officers. And of course 1997 was the year that Ellen came out, sparking the Disney boycott by the Southern Baptist Conference, and the year that some newspapers censored the comic strip "For Better or For Worse" simply for including a young Gay character. [NewsPlanet]


Daytona's Beachfest '98 Still A "GO"

With the wildfires in the area being extinguished by firefighters and Mother Nature, Beachfest '98 remains one hot date for the city of Daytona, FL. The Greater Daytona Beach Guild's 5th annual Beachfest, scheduled Aug. 21-23 at the host hotel, Holiday Inn Sun Spree, 600 N. Atlantic Ave., is shaping up as the premier Florida Gay and Lesbian event of late summer.

Check out the Guild's Web site, www.daytonabeachfest.com, for full information, late-breaking additions, or to print out a pre-registration form for the Guild's Party Package.

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