Muskgon's LGBTQ community in need of support center

Teen in court after attack

MUSKEGON COUNTY, MICH. -

Over the weekend, Muskegon Heights police officers were called to the scene of a robbery.

When officers arrived on the scene, they found a 17-year-old victim who was lured to the area. He had been stripped of his clothes and possessions. 

Police say the suspect beat the victim and took his clothes.

"This young man was targeted based on his sexual orientation," said D.J. Hilson the Muskegon County Prosecutor. 

The victim was released from a Muskegon hospital after receiving treatment for cuts and bruises--many of which were to his face. 

"This type of behavior should not and will not be tolerated in this community," said Chief Joseph Thomas Jr. of the Muskegon Heights Police. 

The suspect, 18-year-old Trevon Godbolt, also know as Trevon Taylor, was charged Wednesday with unarmed robbery and unlawful imprisonment.

Both carry a maximum sentence of 15 years.

Police arrested Godbolt on Monday night, Nov. 7, according to Muskegon County prosecutor D.J. Hilson. He was arrested at a residence on Blue Lake Road by Michigan State Police, following a tip made to Silent Observer. 

Video of the assault was posted on social media.

In the video, the assailant can be seen grabbing and beating the victim who yells, "please stop."

The suspect repeatedly calls the victim a "gay n-word" and verbally berates him. The victim is forced to strip all of his clothes off. 

"Take the shirt off too," the suspect said. "I'm not playing with you...take everything off before you leave--even your drawers." 

As the victim runs off naked, he is chased by two women, one of whom is filming the assault. She laughs and yells, "catch him." 

F.B.I. investigators are looking at the video. Their investigation may result in a hate crime charge from a federal prosecutor in Grand Rapids.
 
Muskegon County Reverend Robert Teszlewicz viewed the video over the weekend.
 
"I started making comments every time I saw the video," said Teszlewicz. "This isn't funny, this is a crime." 
 
At one time Muskegon Heights had a volunteer run support center for the LGBTQ community. It closed a few months after opening.
 
The center didn't last in two other locations either. LGBTQ community members in Muskegon County have to travel to Grand Rapids to find any significant support groups.
 
"But we shouldn't have to do that," said Teszlewicz.
 
He says the need to support LGBTQ teens is espically significant.
 
"It is not like we are talking about four or five kids," said Teszlewicz. "We are talking about hundreds of kids in Muskegon County who are LGBTQ."
 
And he hopes something good comes from the disturbing video.
 
"Maybe the community will wake up and say we can not have our kids being treated like that," said Teszlewicz.
 
Godbolt remains in the Muskegon County jail. He's due back in court for a preliminary hearing on November 21.
 
Police are also working to identify the individuals who recorded the assault.

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