Pam Disel: Has criticized police for not classifying the attack as a "hate crime"

Victim says attack
was hate driven

A lesbian visitor is the second
person to be assaulted
in Waikiki in five days


A 25-year-old Oklahoma woman said she was the victim of an apparent anti-gay attack in Waikiki on Thursday, five days after the beating of a 39-year-old man who had just left a gay bar.

An advocate for homosexuals said he is concerned for the safety of gay visitors and others in Waikiki.

"Do we have to wait for someone to get killed before police do anything?" said Ken Miller, executive director of the Center, also known as the Gay & Lesbian Community Center, which represents gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons.

The Oklahoma woman, Pam Disel, also criticized Honolulu police for not aggressively investigating her attack.

Disel, who planned to move here and had a job interview lined up, said yesterday that the gay and lesbian community believes Hawaii is a safe and welcoming place.

"If I could tell one thing to every gay person, 'Do not come to Hawaii right now,' " Disel said. " 'There is a person or persons who will hit you for being gay. The police department will do anything to avoid doing something about it.' "

Disel said just before 1 a.m. Thursday on Kalakaua Avenue across the Waikiki police substation, she and two heterosexual women from Ireland were walking side-by-side on the way to Hula's Bar and Lei Stand, when two men began following them.

They asked the women where they were going, to which Disel responded, "A club," she said.

"They asked all of us, 'Are you gay?' " Disel said. "I said 'yes.' "

She said one of the men hit her in the face, apparently with his fist. She fell to the ground, lost consciousness for a few seconds and spat up blood.

She was taken to the Queen's Medical Center with a concussion, a broken jaw and several fractures below her eye. She also had cuts in her mouth, some of her teeth shifted and her gums are shredded, she said.

On Sept. 18, Tim Noreuil had just turned onto Kuhio Avenue, about a block from Hula's, a popular gay bar, which he had just left before he was attacked.

Noreuil had said he did not believe his attack was related to him coming out of Hula's.

Honolulu police could not say whether the cases were related, but Crimestoppers coordinator Det. Letha DeCaires notes that in Noreuil's case, there was "no evidence by the behavior or the words spoken ... at this time" that there was an anti-gay motive.

"Cases are each worked on their own merit. It just so happened there were two in Waikiki that were quite disturbing," she said.

Disel criticized police for failing to take a statement from her the day of the attack, a detective was not assigned to the case until Sunday, and she was not offered a sketch artist until Monday.

She said she doesn't feel safe in Hawaii and will return home.

Disel and Miller criticized police for not labeling the attacks as "hate crimes."

Miller said if hate crimes are not labeled as such, then "statistically, you can come back and say there are no hate crimes."

Hawaii's hate crime law was passed in 2001, and only three cases have been on record in the state thus far, two based on race or ethnicity, one for sexual orientation.

The hate-crime law permits an extended term in sentencing, but the offender must be found guilty of the first charge, and the jury must also find him guilty of the hate crime, said Jim Fulton, executive assistant for the city Prosecutor's Office.

Criminologist Paul Perrone with the state Attorney General's Office said most hate-crime cases are not clear cut.

However, based upon what Disel said, "if there is no more to the story, then I would suggest that it ... most likely is a hate crime," he said.

Perrone said it's "easier for police to determine who did what to whom," but "far more complex to determine why somebody did something."



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