Last September we were all appalled by the brutal anti-gay attack on Jake Raynard, who underwent extensive facial reconstruction surgery after being attacked by a group of brick-wielding thugs outside a bar in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Raynard himself was charged with assault for kicking one of his assailants and last week he plead guilty.
But wait a minute — how can Raynard be considered a victim and an assailant at the same time? Raynard says he’s struggling with that very issue. “In the process of defending myself and my friends, I did harm to my attackers,” says the 30-year-old artist, who says he and two other guys were attacked by a group of thugs outside a gay-friendly Thunder Bay bar on September 5, 2009. Acccording to Raynard, the four teens shouted “fags” and “fairies” at the trio, then threw bricks at them. “I pulled an attacker off my friends and then kicked him a couple of times,” says Raynard. Raynard’s friends got away in a cab, but he was knocked unconscious. He needed reconstructive surgery to repair a shattered skull, crushed cheekbone, broken jaw and damage to one eye. The assault involving Raynard made headlines across Canada, prompted the creation of a Facebook page that drew almost 7,000 supporters and caused hundreds of people in Thunder Bay to rally against community violence. A couple of months later, community members were surprised when Raynard, too, was charged. “I may have exceeded some bounds,” Raynard admits. “I’m a little bit in shock that I reacted that way. I’m not a violent person. There was alcohol and flared tempers. I have feelings of massive regret. It’s something that I’m dealing with on a daily basis.” Having said all that, Raynard feels frustration about his guilty plea. “The verdict sends a mixed message,” he says. The main reason he didn’t fight the charge was money. “Going to court is expensive, so I don’t feel I was given many options.”
Raynard’s case was given a conditional discharge, meaning that it will disappear as a criminal record in one year, provided he isn’t rearrested on other charges. Four of his assailants are awaiting trial, but hate crimes charges were not filed.
(Tipped by JMG reader Nathaniel)