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|Gay men attacked in St. Lucia issue statement|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|March 15, 2011 15:14|
The three gay men attacked in St. Lucia on March 2, including one from Atlanta, issued a statement today in response to recent reports by the Associated Press and the Jamaica Observer about the attack. The recent reports contain errors that they want to correct, according to Michael Baker of Atlanta, his boyfriend, Nick Smith of South Carolina, and Todd Wiggins, formerly of Atlanta, who are still recovering from the severe beatings suffered when they were robbed in St. Lucia on March 2.
Here is the statement in full:
Statement from Todd Wiggins, Michael Baker and Nick Smith
• Todd Wiggins and his partner, Tom Richman, had rented the cabin in St. Lucia, at which the attack took place, since November 2010. They were known in the local community, had numerous friends there, and Todd was volunteering at the local primary school weekly. Tom was in the U.S. on a business trip at the time of the attack.
• Based on statements made by the attackers, we believe that some of the intruders knew Todd.
• We have not speculated on the motive of the crime, but strong anti-gay, anti-White and anti-American language was used repeatedly during the crime. The attackers asserted that if we confirmed we were gay, they would kill us. They also alleged that they had friends within the police department, would know if we reported the crime and would kill us if we did so, which elevated our concern with reporting the crime.
• A camera, two Mac laptop computers, a watch and several thousand dollars were taken by the attackers, with a total value over $10,000 US. The St. Lucian police reported erroneously that $1,800 was the value stolen. Also taken that night were Todd’s passport, credit cards, and miscellaneous items which had been in a safe along with cash and Nick’s watch. The passport and other personal items (not the cash or watch) were delivered to the police the next morning. Among the items returned was a “preferred membership card” (that did not belong to Todd) from a local St. Lucian clothing store. The police could not explain how the items were returned and have not investigated further to determine the owner of the membership card.
• Todd and Michael were treated for head lacerations and received stitches the night of the attack. Michael was diagnosed with a concussion after a follow-up examination at Emory Hospital in Atlanta on Friday, March 4.
• The police response seemed slow and unfocused, and it is possible that time may have been lost in pursuing the criminals.
• On Thursday, March 3, 2011, Todd was contacted by the Ministry of Tourism who helped facilitate, along with Delta Air Lines, our return to Atlanta. We remain grateful for the assistance of Delta Air Lines and the Ministry of Tourism for this assistance.
• The Foreign Minister of St. Lucia, Rufus Bousquet, has made insensitive remarks and allegations publicly about us and the incident. The St. Lucia police have also publicly reported that our items have been returned and that two of the five men have been arrested. Todd confirmed with the investigating officer in St. Lucia on Monday, March 14 that neither of these claims is true.
• We have submitted written statements of the attack to U.S. Representative John Lewis (GA-District 5), the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, and the U.S. State Department.
It is our hope that this crime will be investigated properly by the government of St. Lucia. We also hope that because of this investigation and ultimate findings that the island of St. Lucia will become a safer place for all people to visit and enjoy. We retain an affection for the many friends we made during our time on St. Lucia and hope that those guilty of this crime will be brought to justice so that no one else will suffer a similar attack.
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