Friday, March 22, 2013
Frisco man says neighbor assaulted him because he was gay
Detectives said they will look into whether it is a hate crime.
FRISCO A Frisco man says his neighbor assaulted him and he was beaten up partly because of his sexual orientation.
Jim Hokanson, who is openly gay, was assaulted by his next-door neighbor at 1 a.m. March 14 in the 5800 block of Greensboro Drive. Hokanson said the man who assaulted him referenced his sexual orientation before the incident occurred.
"He started talking about a lot of random things, like 'I'm better than you; I'm more successful than you,' and he asked me if I was gay," he said. "I said, 'What does that have to do with anything?' When I finally said I was, he got agitated. He then said he had to do something at his house real quick."
Hokanson said he called 911 and locked his door as soon as the man left. While on the phone, however, Hokanson said he heard something outside and was worried his home, which he lives in with his mother, was being vandalized by the neighbor.
The 911 call was still ongoing when the neighbor came back and allegedly started punching and kicking Hokanson, who said he can't remember everything that happened because he blacked out at one point.
"He called me a pervert before he started punching and kicking me," Hokanson said. "The first thing he did was punch me in the face, and then he kicked me at least twice that I remember. God knows how many times he punched me."
Hokanson still had several visible bruises on his legs Monday afternoon in addition to a bruise on his chin. Headaches and vision issues are also taking place as a result of the incident, he said.
The reason the assault occurred is still unclear to Hokanson, though he said the neighbor showed him a letter when he first answered the door.
"He had this letter that evidently said I was going around telling people he's a drug dealer," Hokanson said, adding that he never met the man before the assault occurred. "It was just a paragraph, and it was rambling. It didn't make any sense. I don't even know how it [implicated] me."
The neighbor, Hokanson said, had bloodshot eyes and was incoherent when the incident occurred.
When asked about the letter, neighbors said they hadn't heard of it. Neighbors also said they hadn't heard Hokanson making any claims about the man who assaulted him dealing drugs.
According to Hokanson, the neighbor was not arrested by the Frisco Police Department; instead, he said, police knocked on the man's door once and returned to Hokanson's house when the neighbor didn't answer.
Officers took statements from Hokanson and paramedics responded to the scene. Hokanson's mother said she was not questioned, however.
Because of the neighbor's comments, he could be charged with a hate crime under Texas law. House Bill 587, which was signed into law in 2001, allows a judge or jury to impose harsher penalties if a crime was committed based on "prejudice against a group identified by race, color, disability, religion, national origin or ancestry, age, gender, or sexual preference."
Since the law was enacted, however, few cases have seen the harsher penalties imposed.
Greg Barnett, a public information officer for the police department, said detectives are working on the case.
"I know a report was filed that night. We also took pictures and got a statement from [Hokanson] -- everything was filed," he said. "Now the detectives assigned to the case will continue working it, but the time frame really depends on what else we have going on -- we've had a few big incidents happen recently."
When asked if hate crime laws will be considered, Barnett said that would be something detectives will look into.
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