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SGN reports first felony charge for malicious harassment of Transgender victim
SGN reports first felony charge for malicious harassment of Transgender victim
by Nick Ardizzone - SGN Staff Writer

In October, a woman on Capitol Hill was the victim of what is now being processed as felony malicious harassment. The victim (name withheld by Seattle Gay News) is believed to have been targeted because she identifies as Transgender. The report was reviewed and formalized by the Seattle Police Department on December 14 and has now entered public record.

The SGN spoke with King County Prosecutor Mike Hogan about this important case. "I believe this is the first case of felony malicious harassment filed where we've had an openly Transgendered victim in King County," he said. "I think that's significant to the Transgender community, and probably the community at large."

On October 20, 2007, the victim was walking on the sidewalk in front of Dick's Drive-In (115 Broadway Ave E) at approximately 1:10 p.m. in full daylight. She was approached by Charles Patrick Schewe, who said, "You're a fucking man, aren't you?"

"Fuck off," she replied, flipping Schewe her middle finger and continuing to walk down the sidewalk.

Schewe followed as she tried to walk away. "Fuck you, I'll kick your ass, faggot!" he yelled. He continued to taunt her by saying, "You want some, faggot? Huh, you want some?"

According to the Statement of Probable Cause, the victim felt threatened by Schewe as he moved his weight to the balls of his feet and postured toward her in what she deemed "a fighting stance." Schewe was controlling a medium-sized dog. The victim felt that Schewe was about to assault her at any second.

She walked faster, took out her cell phone, and told Schewe she was going to call the police. "Don't call the police, you fucking faggot," he said.

While she was dialing 911, SPD Officers Raguso and Warner drove past in a marked patrol car. The victim ran into the street to their car and reported Schewe's behavior, saying it made her extremely fearful and concerned for her personal safety. Schewe was advised of his Miranda Rights, which he stated he understood. "Why am I going to jail for that faggot?" Schewe asked the arresting officers. "I want to press charges against that faggot. She called me a homeless bastard and told me to 'fuck off.' I should have never said nothing to that faggot."

During his arrest, Schewe was asked if he felt it was appropriate to walk up to people and comment on their sexual orientation. "I haven't had any hatred until now," Schewe responded. He then explained to Officer Warner, who is black, that his use of "faggot" was the same as black people calling each other "nigger." "You know you all say that to your 'brothas,'" Schewe yelled.

During the booking process in King County Jail, Officer Warner told Schewe he found the use of "nigger" offensive. Schewe replied, "So? If a black man calls another black man 'nigger,' then I, as a white man, can do the same." Schewe's erratic behavior escalated while he was being booked. He slammed his head into the wall of his holding cell, and when officers re-contacted him, Schewe called Officer Warner a "nigger" in the presence of three other officers.

Schewe's bail was set at $25,000, as his criminal record showed two drug-related felony charges in 2004 and 2005. He has been charged with malicious harassment (a class C felony) as he "maliciously and intentionally, and because of his perception of the sexual orientation or gender of [the victim] did threaten a specific person & and placed her in reasonable fear of harm to person or property," in accordance with Washington State criminal code.

Prosecutor Hogan explained to the SGN how the defendant's choice of words in this incident set him up to bear the full brunt of Washington State law. "Though Transgendered is not yet a protected category on the State Statute - as it is in the Municipal Code - I was able to file felony charges because it is the defendant's perception of the sexual orientation and gender of the victim I have to prove," he said. "Sometimes harassment of Transgendered people would fit under State Statute, because frequently the people harassing them are calling them 'faggots' & since the defendant called the woman a 'faggot' and asked if she was a man, I am able to proceed [with this case] as a felony."

Hogan also pointed out how Schewe's behavior during and after his booking supported the case against him. "It has evidentiary value & some of these cases don't have a lot of motive evidence. They may call you a 'faggot' once, but that's not a lot of evidence to prove cases beyond a reasonable doubt," he explained. "What's really nice is when [defendants] run on at the mouth with racist talk - in this case, completely unrelated. It's nice because it does show the state of mind of the defendant at that time & it's something the judges are going to consider when they decide whether or not the guy is going to be released and what bond they're going to set."

Schewe's arraignment is on January 2, 2008. He could face 12-14 months in prison for the felony charge.

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