Beating suspect explains why he attacked homosexual man at Walmart
CORINTH, MS (WMC) - A man charged with beating up a gay man in Corinth, Mississippi says he snapped, not because the man was gay, but because of what he feared the man would reveal to the rest of the world.
James Scott faces assault charges for what he did to Devin Norman at the Corinth Walmart on Friday.
Norman and his supporters say Scott should be charged with more than assault. They want Scott to face hate crime charges, because they say he attacked Norman for being homosexual.
Scott sat down with WMC Action News 5's Michael Clark to tell his side of the story.
He says Norman scared him by threatening to post lewd pictures and messages between them to Facebook for the world to see.
"I was screaming, and I said, 'Don't you dare post that. Don't you dare post that on Facebook,'" Scott said.
Scott says he has been in the closet as a bisexual, and he was afraid of how posting those messages would change his life.
"I was in fear for what my kids were going to think. I wasn't ready to tell anybody," Scott said.
Scott attacked him because he is gay. He says Scott repeatedly punched him while calling him a gay slur.
Norman says he no longer has the pictures he threatened to post online.
"I was bluffing, hoping that he [Scott] would back away from me, because his body language was so threatening and violence scares me," Norman said.
Corinth police are still interviewing witnesses, but right now they say there's no evidence Scott attacked Norman because of his sexual preference.
Scott says this whole event has forced him to come out to his friends and family.
LGBTQ leaders agree that coming out can be a stressful moment that people often practice beforehand.
Memphis Gay and Lesbian Center Executive Director Will Batts says no one should take that moment away from someone else.
"You may worry, 'Am I going to lose that person in my life?' People have all kinds of reactions," said Batts. "I think the community that we live in is a community that tries to shame us for who we are, for who we were created to be and that's a difficult way to live your life."
Batts says domestic violence is high among LGBTQ relationships and urges those to reach out to the center for help in these situations, rather than resort to violence, which he added is never the answer.
Meanwhile, Scott admits and apologizes for the violence, but maintains he did not attack Norman out of hate for his sexual orientation.
"I'm sorry for the physical damage, but like I said before, you have no right to ruin someone's life," said Scott. "You have no right to threaten to do that to somebody. It's your right to be who you want to be; it's no one's right to tell your business."
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