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SMU Quarterback Justin Willis Suspended for Possible Hate Crime

Justin_willisThe quarterback for Southern Methodist University's football team, Justin Willis, has been suspended after reports that he and another suspect repeatedly hit sophomore Jamil Beard in the face at a party early Friday morning. Before striking the student, one of the accused allegedly called Beard a "fag".

According to the police report, "Beard was at a party when two suspects entered the residence. They walked in and 'Susp. #2 stated to the comp (Beard) 'I heard you been talking sh**" then called the comp a 'fa*'.' Then Willis and the other suspect "repeatedly struck the comp (Beard) in the face and neck with their fists causing a 1 inch laceration above the right eye and severe swelling of the comp's lip."

Beard told police officers that he knew Willis. Willis' father alleges that Beard "began harassing his son through e-mail and then eventually began to slander him in public and follow Willis around."

Said Beard's father: "It's hard to do a restraining order on a college campus."
(Except for the kind taken care of with fists, of course)

An investigation is ongoing.

Willis awaits University investigation [smu daily]
SMU Quarterback Justin Willis Suspended [cbs11]

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  1. A small aircraft just crashed into an Upper East Side building.;_ylt=AufPJK60YrfGg5Rhs2av7c2s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ--

    Posted by: breaking news | Oct 11, 2006 3:48:05 PM

  2. I live in Dallas and this makes me sad. If what the media reports is true, the victim allegedly followed this football player around and harrassed him because he wanted to have a "relationship" with him. If that is true, it does not excuse the fact that the football player and a friend purposely went to a party where the victim was and assaulted him. When you listen to what the football player is saying, you start to hear the beginnings of a "gay panic" defense, but they went to where the victim was. They could have just ignored it. The football player said in an interview that his teammates began to question whether he was gay, so of course he had to go pound the face in of the gay guy that liked him for fear that he might be considered gay.

    How messed up a society are we when being called gay is one of the worst things that can happen to a person. None of the republican house members were ever called upon to step down over Iraq and other lies/misdeeds, but as soon as a gay sex scandal happens, the congress/public act as if the world is ending.

    I say make an example out of the football player for intentionally going to where the victim was and assaulting him instead of acting like a mature person and just ignoring the rumors or just talking to the guy.

    It will never happen because SMU is a very powerful institution and we are in the south and I bet nothing will happen to him.

    Just my ramblings...

    Posted by: David | Oct 11, 2006 3:51:29 PM

  3. This is a very unfortunate situation for all parties involved, I do not think this a hate crime if the football player reported it to his head coach they should have addressed it, if the victim was in fact stalking the football player for a year the player is lucky he did not get hurt.

    Posted by: Darrell | Oct 11, 2006 5:54:01 PM

  4. Well, gay or not, if someone were stalking me, I might pound them, but it wouldn't be because he's gay. I'd pound him for stalking me. That's not a hate crime to me. But Willis did yell "fag." Not a very smart move. I agree that he freaked out and had to show his fellow players that he was straight.

    The whole story will come out. Usually, you stalk someone with whom you've had a previous relationship. Who knows what their relationship was before the assault. Sounds a little fishy.

    Posted by: Anon1 | Oct 11, 2006 6:23:04 PM

  5. "I say make an example out of the football player..."

    You may want to wait for an update on what happened before rushing to judgment. In a follow up article, Willis is already contrite:

    "On the same day a police report revealed that a male SMU student accused quarterback Justin Willis of a hate crime, Willis denied the allegation and apologized for his action. In the report, the alleged victim claims he was called a slur referring to his sexual orientation.

    Willis admitted Monday he hit the student, but he said that he "snapped" after nine months of harassment by the student and it had nothing to do with a hate crime. "There's nothing behind that," said Willis, who denied making the slur. "I don't hate anybody. I have no reason to."

    Willis...said he was wrong to hit the student. "I apologize for that," Willis said. The alleged victim smirked at him when asked to leave a team gathering, and Willis "overreacted," he said. Willis said he hit the student "a couple of times," was pulled off the alleged victim and left.

    Posted by: Shaun | Oct 11, 2006 7:26:20 PM

  6. I'm not going to make any judgment or claim as to the details of this particular incident. I don't know enough about it.

    BUT, Shaun, I'm unaware of anyone, ever, admitting to committing a hate crime. In my entire life I don't believe I've ever heard a suspect say, "yeah, it was a hate crime."

    It’s kind of like how you almost never hear anyone trashing gay people any more without the seemingly obligatory, “…but I’m not homophobic. Some of my best friends are gay.”

    Regardless of the details, it is illegal to hunt someone down and beat them up because they are stalking you. If someone were stalking me, it wouldn't take nine months before I did something about it, which, by the way, would be to go to the police.

    Posted by: Zeke | Oct 11, 2006 8:25:36 PM

  7. One more thing,

    When you quote the attacker giving his first hand account of how he assaulted the victim, you don't refer to the victim as the "alleged victim".

    Posted by: Zeke | Oct 11, 2006 8:28:33 PM

  8. Anyone know how common "hate crime" legislation is? Like in other countries. I think I agree with South Park on this one (though maybe someone here could change my opinion). A crime is a crime regardless of the motivation.

    Posted by: Kevin | Oct 11, 2006 8:33:12 PM

  9. Yeah, the Wiki entry for "hate crime", which details the arguments for and against hate crime legislation, didn't help me make up my mind. There isn't hate crime legislation in Ireland anyway. And only refers to the US so maybe it's just in the US...?

    Posted by: Kevin | Oct 11, 2006 8:42:08 PM

  10. Hate crimes laws are common in Canada, parts of the US and numerous European countries.

    The idea behind them is that some crimes are basically acts of terrorism, meant to assault and strike fear into a whole group of people, rather than a simple assault on an individual.
    People often have issues with hate crimes laws because they have been given a lot of misinformation about what they are, what they’re for and how they are enforced.

    One does not automatically get a crime designated a "hate crime" simply because the victim is black or gay or even because he/she uses offensive language during an attack. That is a myth that is perpetuated, most often, by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and his gay loving ilk.

    Check out the language of ACTUAL hate crimes legislation for what they do and do not do. Check with your local police authority for more information on the requirements for a crime to be designated a hate crime.

    After educating myself about the importance of this enhancement by reading the legislation and talking to law enforcement officials, I changed my opinion on the importance of using it as a tool to fight racial, sexual orientation and other forms of domestic terrorism.

    Posted by: Zeke | Oct 11, 2006 11:14:51 PM

  11. It seems pretty clear, from the information given in this story, that this particular incident was not, and would not come close to meeting the requirements to be considered, a hate crime.

    Posted by: Zeke | Oct 11, 2006 11:18:10 PM

  12. just because he's gay doesn't mean he can't also be a stalker!!!!
    gays can be criminals too!!!

    Posted by: Talldarkman | Oct 11, 2006 11:58:41 PM

  13. I'm sorry talldarkman, I missed the comment where someone denied that the gay man was a stalker.

    I don't recall anyone claiming that gays were incapable of being stalkers and I didn't read any comment(s) that claimed that gay people couldn't be criminals.

    I'm not sure where you were going with your comment.

    Posted by: Zeke | Oct 12, 2006 12:11:21 AM

  14. To me, the "gay panic" crap only makes sense if the "straight" guy is under fourteen. By fourteen, straight guys already believe they can whip any "fag"...nobody was stalkin' that funky jock.
    What the hell is stalkin' anyway? Staring at him with googoo eyes, admiring the macho bastard? For that you have to be beaten? If that's the case, straight guys all over this country should be beaten for how they "stalk" women. Why couldn't the jock just whisper to his gay admirer," hey, come around when it's dark and nobody's around to see," that's what straight guys used to do.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Oct 12, 2006 2:08:48 PM

  15. The athletic department made their decision yesterday, and Willis was reinstated. And like Shaun stated Willis is contrite over the situation. I don't know where you got your info, but from what I've read, Beard came to the football party un-invited and was asked to leave. And I second what Zeke said, this is definitely not a hate crime, it was a fight amongst students. I'm just happy the situation was resolved and now both parties can move on.

    Posted by: ponyfan4ever | Oct 13, 2006 10:58:18 AM

  16. First let me say I have firsthand knowledge regarding what I'm about to say. SMU would have swept this incident under the rug if it could have (and for all intents and purposes has). SMU does everything in its power to keep unflattering incidents out of the news, including sexual assaults. The only reason they pretended to investigate this is because there have been two reported incidents of anti-gay harassment in the last two months.

    Everyone was so blinded by the outside chance that SMU might be invited to a bowl game that they were more than willing to give Willis a pass. There were three charges involved: breaking curfew, assault and a hate crime. A one-game suspension is the least that should have happened to Willis, for breaking curfew alone.

    Under SMU's non-discrimination policy, which includes sexual orientation, Willis's calling Beard a fag elevated the whole incident to an entirely different level. Finally, the idea that the University was able to carry out a thorough investigation of three charges in just one week is ridiculous.

    Things don't move that quickly in academia. This was a whitewash so Willis could return to playing as soon as possible. The alumni pressure alone was more than enough to force a decision favorable to Willis and the football program.

    As for any claim that Willis didn't call Beard a "fag," that's bullshit. That requires that we believe that a "straight" guy who was being "stalked" by a gay guy didn't have the personal restraint to refrain from pummeling the gay stalker's face, but did have the presence of mind not to call him a "fag." Whatever!

    As for the stalking, there are a lot of rumors going around campus, and many of them paint an entirely different picture of what may have been going on. I can see why Willis would claim that Beard was stalking him; it's much more flattering for him than the alternative.

    Posted by: ridemponies | Oct 30, 2006 10:11:53 PM

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