Man Sentenced To Two Years In Prison For Fighting Back Against Violent Antigay Attackers

OMhWoDXaEoPnonY-556x313-noPad21-year-old Luke O’Donovan (pictured) will spend the next two years in a Georgia state prison. His crime? Standing up against a gang of men who shouted antigay slurs at him at a New Year’s Eve party.

According to O’Donovan, he was at a party in Atlanta on December 31, 2012 when the gang approached him after seeing him dancing with another man. They yelled homophobic epithets and physically assaulted him. What happened next, he claims, was an act of self-defense.

In a statement, O’Donovan explained: “In an attempt to defend myself from the attack I thought could end my life I stabbed five of them, while also being stabbed three times myself.”

The prosecution, however, has a slightly different version of events. It claims O’Donovan had been kicked out the party, only to return later with a pocket knife with which he used to stab several people. One man required surgery as a result of the fight, though no injuries were fatal.

Of everyone involved, only O’Donovan was charged with anything —  five counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Facing a potential 110-year sentence if convicted by a jury, he chose to instead accept a plea deal of two years behind bars plus eight years probation.

O’Donovan’s supporters have called the case “the epitome of a hate crime” claiming that “the demonization” of his actions represented “a growing trend: criminalizing those who successfully defend themselves from hate crimes.”

In a statement, O’Donovan said, “It is regrettable that anyone had to come to harm, but given the choice of whether to lose my life to a hateful attack or fight for the chance to live, I will always choose the ferocious refusal to go quietly into the night.”

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  • ted72

    Friggin’ A! I would’ve done exactly what he did. I keep a swiss army knife in my backpack for quick fixes. Thing comes in handy in many occasions. If my life were threatened, I’d use it as my “quick fix” the situation.

    But, the story seems a little incomplete. Would they have sentenced him so harshly without this going to the media for gay activist group coming to his aid? Why didn’t any LGBT legal group help him. This is sentence is despicable! You don’t charge a victim for a crime of self-defense. UNLESS there was more that Queerty didn’t mention or was aware of (just food for thought…)

  • Paul Nadolski

    It’s Georgia. Lucky he got a plea deal for “only” two years.

  • Random

    There’s a lot of misinformation about this story. I suggest people do a lot if reading on the subject before rushing to a conclusion. Obviously, homophobia is bad, but but it’s not clear whether this was just a straight up anti-gay attack or not.

    Check out the comments on Vice for more views.

  • Bauhaus

    @Random: I don’t know all of the facts, but victim was able to have his10 year sentence reduces to 2, after video footage of one of the attackers surfaced showing attacker beating up a transgender woman.

    THIS VIDEO IS AWESOME! These bullies get crushed! Instant justice: It’s a bit confusing at first, keep watching.


  • blondeboyz

    Ok. He was kicked out of the party and then returned WITH A KNIFE. That is not defending yourself and being scared for your life. That is pre-meditated. He should have been arrested, charged and found guilty just like the story says he was. Like Forrest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does”

  • lykeitiz

    Yeah, the details are pretty unclear. But, if the end result was that some aggressive homophobes had to be treated for stab wounds, then it is a warm & fuzzy story after all.

  • wpewen

    Well blondeboyz, we don’t have all the info, but: Returning to the party with a knife proves nothing. Don’t know about you, I’m a 56 yr old gay guy who has witnessed events where people came armed in case of violence, not to cause it. O’Donovan may have simply wanted to return to the event and keep himself protected, or in fact he was planning an assault. But your analysis is worthless, there is no way we can know this based on the EVIDENCE. If you’re gay (I am) I wish you’d keep your Forest Gump stuff at home. It’s a court of law, not a movie.

    Walt in CA

  • Ridpathos

    *sigh* It wouldn’t be the first time a queen lied about being homophobically assaulted.

    The liars just make every assaulted gay person look like the boy who cried wolf.

  • wpewen

    Why not give the guy benefit of the doubt? Right here are two men who have convicted this fellow and I really wonder why. I’ve been assaulted ONCE by some weirdass guy in a gay bar who everybody thought was gay. I’ve never been hassled by tough guys on the street, even though I’m short possibly because I’ve got a wrestler’s build and guys often can’t believe I’m gay. If a guy is at all effeminate and slight of build the street trash will descend. It’s always been that way.
    The fact that this case happened in GA is telling. Two fucking years? Even if the kid is lying about the assault, Two years is absurd. Sounds like the South to me.

  • AtticusBennett

    i believe him. there’s a black transwoman currently in prison for the same thing – fighting back against her attackers, who continue to walk free.

    remember how years ago laws had to be passed because “all white juries” were finding white people innocent of killing or attacking black people? its’ happening here, with LGBT people.

    or the “Affluenza” circumstances: drunk 16 year old drives his car and kills four people. gets a “sentence” at a “rehab camp” with pony rides! adult millionaire in delaware rapes his own three year old daughter. no jail! why? the judge said “he wouldn’t fare well in prison”

    if you’re non-white or non-straight, in many instances that will be considered “more of a crime” than the assaults committed by straight white men.

  • Cam

    @blondeboyz: said…

    “Ok. He was kicked out of the party and then returned WITH A KNIFE. That is not defending yourself and being scared for your life. That is pre-meditated. ”

    It’s interesting that there is no proof that that is what happened. That was what the prosecution claimed, and the defense said he was attacked while at the party.

    Additionally one of the other men involved in the fight was videotaped attacking a Transgendered woman. Coincidence? The defense claimed that the other men were not anti-gay, funny then that one of them was filmed in a hate crime against another LGBT person isn’t it?

  • redcarpet30

    @Paul Nadolski: Yeah. Georgia will fry you twice. Kinda like texas.

  • westsideed

    I’s okay if straight men shoot people when approached or come to their door seeking help ‘The Castle Defense’ as an excuse and get away with it, but let a gay man defend himself, he goes to prison.

  • robho3

    Ahhh the South….gotta love it

  • Stache99

    Sorry about the outcome but the way he defended himself brings a smile to my face. One against five thugs. Maybe not the smartest considering the odds but gay people need to be less afraid of confrontation. Yeah, you’re probably going to get your hair messed up but so what. At least you don’t have to spend the rest of your life as a victim. We need to hear this more often.

  • SteveDenver

    @Stache99: And how about if it went down the way CBS, NBC and CNBC report it: O’Donovan got into an altercation with one guest at a New Year’s Eve party, was ejected, and then returned with a knife and attacked that guest. When others tried to pull him off, he stabbed at them, injuring several?

    Is he a heroic gay man standing up against attackers, or is he a drunken attacker who struck out at those trying to help an unarmed person with whom he had an argument earlier?

  • DarkZephyr

    @Ridpathos: What do you mean by “Queen”? From what I understand, he is a bisexual man who is not a drag queen.

  • SteveDenver

    Sorry, but O’Donovan’s statements ring vainglorious.
    According to numerous news reports filed on New Year’s Day after the incident, O’Donovan had an altercation with ONE other guest and was asked to leave or thrown out, that detail is equally split among reports.

    The damning facet in this situation is that O’Donovan did leave and returned to the party armed with a pocket knife. Eyewitness testimony says O’Donovan approached and reignited his argument, then attacked an unarmed man with the knife. When others tried to pull him off, he randomly brandished the knife. Nobody was armed except O’Donovan.

    Of course, none of us have ever encountered homosexuals who fabricate or over-drink or who can’t walk away from an argument.

    He looks so cute with the daisy behind his ear, how could he possibly be guilty?

  • DarkZephyr

    @SteveDenver: Are you one of the many commenters all over the internet who claims to have personally been there? Even among so called eye witnesses there are disagreements as to what actually happened.

  • Ogre Magi

    @redcarpet30: The South is a thoroughly rotten place for LGBT people

  • Chris

    No one at that party was willing to corroborate this guy’s version of the events. I find that confusing.

  • crowebobby

    This kind of shit happens even between straight guys. I knew a quite small Hispanic guy who was attacked by two guys while he was in a phone booth (it was back in the 70’s); he was karate expert and kick both their asses. . . and got 3 months in prison for it. Our justice system is often f*cked up.

  • ClarkK

    You’ll note the late of corroboration in this and related media stories. At least one national legal organization investigated the story, and found no evidence to back up his version of the story.

  • stranded

    The only bit that aggravates me is that the homophobes had nothing charged against them. There are lots of less dangerous ways to protect yourself. Stun gun, pepper spray, learning self defence moves; anything that can stun your attackers and let you get to a safer location. A knife should not be used for self defence. I think he should have gotten 2 years probation, not 2 years in jail.

  • booradley1960

    @Ogre Magi: that’s just not true. I live in Atlanta and it’s actually more accepting than many non southern states. Atlanta also has one of the largest gay communities in the country- pretty close to that of Dallas / Miami. Moreover, I’ve never been discriminated against once in the 25 years that I have been out, not once.

    Our laws are no different than any other state when crimes are committed. As with most of the other comments on here they are all based on a few blurbs from an article and not based on the full facts of the story. If the guy came back to the party with a knife – he should in fact be prosecuted. If none of the witnesses would back up this guys claim then just maybe he is guilty. Again, if these are the initial facts without seeing or reading a court transcript then the guy was guilty and should pay the price.

  • Rangerboy

    This has nothing to do with being gay. The issue here is a screwed up justice system. In civilised countries where the rule of law works, the prosecution does not only represent the state and the “accusing party” only but MUST determine all facts against and also in favour of the defendant. In other words: the clear facts and circumstances of the crime. This is not the case in the US, where the performance of prosecuting bodies, i.e. district attorneys or such is measured on the number of convictions. This still would make sense, if defendants then had the possibility of appointing qualified attorneys for their defence, but since top class attorneys are very costly, public defendants are absolutely useless, it becomes very difficult for a defendant who does not have a large support base, to fight charges. In that sense, accepting a plea bargain, which does not affect the reputation of the district attorney, gives a lazy judge an easy day in the courthouse, is better than fighting charges and risking life in prison. Now, lets ask ourselves: has justice been served?

  • Terry

    Cece McDonald did the same thing and was the only one charged in a crime. She spent many months in a male prisonfor defending herself. That’s a bunch of bullshit

    If you are not white and heterosexual you can go ahead and be the aggressor and nothing will happen to you

Comments are closed.