Roger Rea is a gay attorney who was badly beaten up last year.
The night before he was badly beaten up, he made his first visit to a gay bar since he and his longterm lover had parted ways months before. He chose Apollo's, a well-known joint on Seventh Street, and he shot pool for a couple of hours with two strangers. He felt something of a connection to one of the men, Tim, because Tim was as avid a fisherman as Rea himself. "You don't find that in the gay community very often," Rea says.

The very next night, he again ran across Tim and his friend David at Apollo's, and this time he invited them back to his home in Ahwatukee for steaks and beer. He admits that he was hoping for some romance with Tim eventually, since Tim was young and blond and stocky as a wrestler. Rea planned no immediate moves, however, since David's presence made everything a little awkward. Rea figured he would serve some dinner to his guests, and show them a few photos of his fishing cabin near Payson, and maybe arrange something for later.

Because he is one of the most out-of-the-closet men in Arizona, he also figured something else: that he'd better be careful. The reality of homophobic violence--a reality that has caused the U.S. Department of Justice to estimate that more hate crimes are aimed at homosexuals than at any other minority group in America--was something he'd been living with since '74, when he first "came out" as a law student at ASU in a manner so verbal and explosive that a former professor remembers "it was an event." And the threat of assault seemed particularly keen to Rea that night. He was haunted by the fact that, only a few weeks before, Phoenix attorney Jack Rowe, who also was gay, had been murdered in his home by two assailants.

When David and Tim pulled their red Camaro up to a gas pump en route, Rea jotted down his new friends' license plate number.

It was a smart move. A little later, Rea had barely popped open three beers and settled onto the family room sofa when the attack began.

Moving like light, Tim slid up behind Rea and pinned the lawyer's arms expertly to his sides. At nearly the same time, David slugged him in the face.

Rea struggled free and tried to make it through the arcadia doors, but the latch slowed him down. His assailants dragged him away from the door, clear back into the living room, and this time Tim kept Rea compliant by holding a knife to his throat. Having been transformed into a sitting duck, there was nothing for Rea to do but submit to the men's slugs and kicks that cracked a rib and split his face open until he was lying face down in a pool of blood that was spreading into the pale peach carpeting. Finally, Tim and David yanked wires out of Rea's stereo and bound his hands and feet with them.

He remembers that they said two things during the attack. One thing, from David, was this: "You raped my brother and now you're going to pay for it."

Rea has never met David's brother.
The other thing, from Tim, was, "If you're not quiet, we're going to kill you."

As he lay listening to the ruckus of two men hurriedly loading into their car every piece of electronic equipment he owned--including the telephone and the $15 clock radio--the late Jack Rowe was much on Rea's mind. "I thought I was fighting for my life," he says. As it turned out, though, he was only another fleeting conquest in the career of David Griswold, a parole violator from Colorado with a long criminal history and, according to court records, a record as a "prostitute who solicited homosexual men so he could roll them." Once Griswold and Tim Hayes had rolled this particular homosexual man, they growled a final order not to call the police and left him alone, so unceremoniously that they didn't even close the front door. Rea worked himself loose and stumbled outdoors, where a neighbor saw him and called 911. Within minutes the police had arrived, and within days Rea had identified David Griswold and Timothy Hayes from photographs pulled out of a detective's file. At that point, Rea thought the jail door would soon be clanging behind Griswold and Hayes.

If you believe Rea's version of this story, the county attorney's office had other plans, though--plans to deep-six the entire matter because it was, after all, only an assault against a gay male.

Rea says that, only two weeks after the crime, he was told by Detective Art Stokes that the prosecutor's office had classified the case "stale" and decided not to file charges. Rea felt it was a clear-cut case of bias. "There is no doubt in my mind," he says.

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Deborah Laake