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Victim of gay-bashing denied reparations

After being brutally beaten in his own home, D.J. Bell had to endure a grueling trial where he was accused of kidnapping. He was later found not guilty on all accounts and the jury called the trial a “travesty.” After applying for victim’s reparations funds, Bell said he was denied the funds and was told he was not eligible because he brought the attack on himself. Despite being acquitted, Dana Thomas, the state worker for the Utah Office of Crime Victims Reparations in charge of Bell’s case, told him that he kidnapped children and would not receive any reparations.

In July of 2008, Bell and his partner, Daniel Fair, were attacked after a group of people said they thought the couple had kidnapped two young children.

Bell was dragged from his home by his hair and was smashed repeatedly against the ground. He suffered severe brain injuries and lost hearing in one ear. Fair suffered a concussion, a fractured eye socket, a fractured hand and a broken nose.

After Bell was found not guilty, seven of the attackers were charged with felony riot. The jury called the case against Bell a “travesty” and a “waste of taxpayer dollars.” Sentencing of four of the attackers is scheduled for May 23.

However, after the trial concluded and Bell and Fair were finally allowed to apply for victim’s reparations to cover medical expenses resulting from the heinous attack, Fair was given the funds while Bell was denied all coverage. Fair was never tried for kidnapping and the early police reports never indicated he was guilty, so the funds were awarded to him, Bell said.

“When I spoke with Dana Thomas, I tried to tell her that a jury of my peers found me not guilty,” Bell said. “She told me she can’t go by what the jury says but only on the first and initial police reports. It didn’t matter to her that the reports were not detailed, inconclusive and misleading. She’s going around the justice system and refuses to listen to reason.”

In a side note on the letter given to Bell after he was denied his claim it said: “You were charged with kidnapping children which appears to be the reason for the assault.”

Bell then appealed to her supervisor, Melvin Wilson, who sent an email that said the funds would be denied because Bell brought the attack on himself for stealing children, Bell said.

“It’s really terrible and bigoted what has happened,” Bell said. “I am being victimized again. It’s like telling a young girl who’s raped it was her fault. That’s why we’re starting a petition.”

Bell and some close friends are starting a petition and urging everyone to sign it and call the state offices in and ask for justice, he said. To sign the petition, go to Injustice801.com. An appeal is being discussed, but all the public feedback for the governmental officials is helpful, Bell said.

Neither Thomas’ nor Wilson’s offices returned repeated calls from QSaltLake.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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