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Mayor Urges Cooley to File Hate Charges in Beating

Rally: Hahn says decision not to seek longer term in West Hollywood assault 'sends the wrong message.' Cooley has said there's no evidence of a hate motive.

October 11, 2002|HOLLY WOLCOTT and DANIEL HERNANDEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

As actor Trev Broudy returned to his parents' house from the hospital Thursday to recuperate from a severe beating Sept. 2, Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn called on Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley to reconsider the decision not to file hate crime charges against the men accused of the attack.

Addressing a crowd of about 300 gathered in West Hollywood to remember Matthew Shepard, murdered four years ago in Wyoming because he was gay, Hahn said Cooley's decision in the attack on Broudy "sends the wrong message."

"If he needs more time to investigate it," Hahn said, "take the time to make the decision correctly."

Hahn was more blunt in a letter he sent to Cooley a week ago criticizing him for filing charges suggesting that "crimes motivated by hate against members of the gay community will not be enforced to the full extent of the law."

"In so doing," Hahn said, "the decision unfortunately perpetuated the harm that was caused by these attacks."

Hahn, a former Los Angeles city attorney, and Sheriff Lee Baca both have urged Cooley to amend the charges to include hate crime, which could potentially add one to four years in state prison.

Broudy, who was hit in the head numerous times with a baseball bat, was released from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and went to his parents' home in Carpinteria.

Broudy was attacked after he and his friend Edward Ulett hugged goodbye on Cynthia Street, just off Santa Monica Boulevard.

After reviewing the evidence, the district attorney's office charged Larry Walker, 29; Vincent Dotson, 18; and Torwin Sessions, 19; each with one count of attempted robbery, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one of conspiracy to commit robbery.

The three men have pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Cooley has said there is no evidence to indicate that the assault on Broudy and Ulett was a hate crime because the attackers didn't say anything about the victim's homosexuality.

Scott Millington, who heads the district attorney's hate crimes unit, said Wednesday: "I have reviewed the case, the district attorney and his executive staff has reviewed it. We are unanimous in our opinion that we cannot prove a hate crime beyond a reasonable doubt."

He added, "Plain and simple, to charge based on public opinion or political pressure is improper."

But Broudy's father, Sherrill, said Thursday night that his son and the family believe the attack was motivated by hate.

"There is no question about it," Sherrill Broudy said. "If they wanted to rob him, they could have taken the money he had with him, but in our estimation, robbers are usually looking for someone affluent, and he was out in his regular clothes. We all believe this was ... gay bashing."

Trev Broudy's stepmother, Charlene, said he is tired, angry and sad but hopeful of recovery. The parents say Broudy can remember bits and pieces from around the time of the attack, but some things elude him.

"When we went to his apartment before coming here, he tried to use his computer but had difficulty and started to cry," she said.

Doctors are uncertain about his chances for a full recovery, Broudy's family said, and say he may eventually need a plate in his skull.

"They attacked a person with enormous potential and permanently altered that," Sherrill Broudy said. His son is "improving, but he still has a long way to go," he said. On Wednesday, West Hollywood Mayor Sal Guarriello announced an effort to collect signatures from 10% of the registered voters in Los Angeles County within 160 days on petitions to recall Cooley from office.

"I have zero tolerance for people who commit hate crimes against my residents and visitors," he said. "I also have zero tolerance for district attorneys who fail to adequately prosecute people who come into West Hollywood and commit hate crimes."

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Times staff writer Louis Sahagun contributed to this report.

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