Teen 'targeted because of his sexual orientation,' stripped and beaten

A teenager in Muskegon Heights was attacked because of his sexual orientation.

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, is facing the unarmed robbery and unlawful imprisonment charges from the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office. Both carry a maximum sentence of 15 years.

Police arrested Godbolt on Tuesday 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. 

WZZM has video of the assault, which was also posted on social media. We decided not to publish the full version of the video due to the graphic and violent nature of the situation. In its full extent, the video lasts two minutes. 

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." 

The suspect then tells the victim to run off, and he is chased by two women, one of whom is filming the assault. She laughs and yells, "catch him." 

Was this a hate crime? 

In Michigan, there is no charge for assault based on sexual orientation.

A Senate bill was introduced earlier this year that would incorporate sexual orientation into the state's ethnic intimidation charge. But it never made it out of committee. 

The current law states: 

A person is guilty of ethnic intimidation if that person maliciously, and with specific intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person's race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. 

"I would hope that our legislature would use this as an example as to why we need to expand the law and include groups such as this to protect them," said Hilson. 

Police Chief Thomas sent a report on the assault to an FBI investigator. 

"He said 'Chief send it to me, I will take it to the U.S. District Attorney and I will see if we can't get a Federal indictment for a hate crime'" said Thomas. 

Serena Johnson the Director of Victim Services at Equality Michigan. Their statement read: 

We are deeply saddened by these actions, and we send our thoughts and prayers to the survivor and his family. At a time when we are seeing the highest number reports of anti-gay youth violence, homicides of transgender and gender non-conforming people, this violence is totally unacceptable. We need to protect these lives at all stages, but especially in youth where they experience bullying, family rejection and violence that affects them throughout their lives.”

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April Stevens is a multi-platform producer at WZZM 13. Have a news tip? Email news@wzzm13.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.

© 2017 WZZM-TV


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