Gay man severely beaten outside club says he was victim of hate crime

Published: Thursday, Sept. 1 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT

Dane Hall, 20, lost six teeth, suffered a broken jaw in multiple places and a piece of broken bone was shoved into his brain during an attack while he was leaving Club Sound in Salt Lake City on Friday night, Aug. 26, 2011. Hall is openly gay and believes the attack was a hate crime. He said his attackers uttered gay slurs during the assault.

Derek Petersen, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Advocates of the gay and lesbian community in Salt Lake City say the violence against gay people has to stop.

"We're gaining acceptance," said Nikki Boyer, president of the board of directors for the Utah Pride Center. "But there's still so much hate and bigotry. I don't have an answer. None of us do."

Boyer reacted Thursday to an incident that happened a week ago outside of Club Sound, 579 W. 200 South, that most of the public was just hearing about.

Dane Hall, 20, was leaving the club late Friday when he was approached by a group of men who hurled gay slurs at him. They then attacked Hall.

"He came up randomly and punched me in the back of my head and I fell on the ground. And he grabbed me by my shirt and punched me on the side of my face," Hall said.

The violent episode ended with Hall being "curbed."

"Curbing," also known as "curb stomping," "curb checking" or "biting the curb," is a term used when a victim is forced to lay on the ground, open his mouth on a cement curb as if he's trying to bite it, and then has the back of his head kicked or stomped on by an attacker. The violent incident gained notoriety in the 1998 movie "American History X."

Hall suffered a broken jaw — broken in three places — and multiple fractures. Six teeth were knocked out

"My cheek bone was shattered, and they said there was a small piece of bone lodged into my brain," he said.

Hall is home from the hospital now, but still has bandages wrapped around his head and is restricted to a liquid diet for about 10 more weeks.

"I started crying yesterday because my brother's cereal smelled so good and I can't eat it," he said.

Hall is openly gay and Club Sound has gay themed events on Friday nights. His friends believe it was a hate crime.

It may have also been the second attack on an openly homosexual person that evening.

Club Sound owner Tom Taylor said when he left his club that night, he came across a man who lived in a nearby apartment. "He was bloody and just asked for help," Taylor said.

It turned out the victim was asleep on the couch when "a group of straight-edgers" broke in an attacked him, Taylor said. The alleged attackers reportedly had connections to one of the men who lived in the apartment and knew he was gay.

As Taylor drove up to the man, he could see a group of about four other men run away. It was just 10 minutes later that Hall was attacked in the same area. Taylor said he just recently found out about Hall's beating and connected the two incidents as possibly being related. He said he contacted police Thursday morning.

Salt Lake police are releasing few details about the attack on Hall. They could not comment on whether the incident was being investigated as a hate crime. A police spokesman said he also wasn't allowed to comment on the alleged curbing episode or how Hall might have received his injuries, saying it was part of the investigation.

A Government Records Access and Management Act request for the police report on Hall's attack was denied Thursday by Salt Lake police, "based on the grounds that this matter is an open, active investigation and the documents in these cases have been classified as protected."

In April, another gay man, 21-year-old Jordan Corona, said he was also attacked while walking to his car after a night at Club Sound. He said he was knocked out, his collar bone severely bruised and his cell phone stolen.

But Corona does not believe robbery was the motivation behind his attack.

"I don't think it was robbery," he said. "It was a hate crime. It's gotta be."

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