About a dozen people protested outside the Matheson Court House on Tuesday, claiming a hate crime was committed against a suspected kidnapper who underwent a bond hearing.

David James Bell of South Salt Lake was beaten after he allegedly kidnapped the two children of a neighbor, and the father discovered the children in his house. His live-in boyfriend was also beaten severely after he tried to break up the fight.

Bell faces two charges of child kidnapping and one charge of burglary. His bail is currently set at $100,000, which was not changed during Tuesday's hearing in 3rd District Court.

According to court documents, Bell took his neighbor's 2-year-old and 4-year-old children from their home while they were sleeping early in the morning on July 4. The children were not harmed.

The protesters argued that the men were attacked because of their sexual orientation, a claim prosecutors dispute. No charges have been filed against the father.

"I have no evidence of a hate crime," said Alicia Cook, deputy district attorney for Salt Lake County. "There have been potential assault charges submitted by the police department."

But Jason Mann, who was holding a sign with a picture of a badly bruised man labeled "hate crime" during the protest, said that Bell's house "was broken into, and he was subsequently beaten," yet nobody was charged. He said that the attacks happened because Bell was gay.

"They assumed because he was gay, he was a child molester," Mann said.

Cook said the childrens' parents were at a gathering in a separate part of the home and checked in on their children periodically. At about 6 a.m. the mother discovered the children missing, she said.

"She finds the children inside (Bell's) house; they are crying," Cook said. "No one at the residence had given permission to D.J. Bell to remove the children."


E-mail: [email protected]