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SOMERVILLE

Police: No hate crime in alleged attack

Email|Print| Text size + By Danielle Dreilinger
Globe Correspondent / January 20, 2008

An investigation by the Somerville Police Department has determined that a Nov. 18 incident was not an antilesbian hate crime.

Lisa Daloia alleged that a man and his sister started taunting her and six friends at the On the Hill Tavern and a Dunkin' Donuts.

She alleged that the man used antilesbian epithets and his sister flashed her breasts at the women. Daloia also alleged that the man later attacked her and two other women as they left a friend's house on Charles Ryan Road.

However, a Somerville police statement issued last week disagreed with that sequence of events. Instead, police describe an argument and physical confrontation without a clear aggressor.

In an investigation, the department concluded that the responding officer, Robert Driscoll, handled the situation appropriately.

"There was nothing remarkable that occurred at the On the Hill Tavern," police spokesman Paul Upton said. Also, according to the report, eyewitness accounts and a surveillance video confirmed that "the alleged perpetrator did not assault or threaten anyone inside Dunkin' Donuts."

In fact, according to the report, a hot chocolate that one of Daloia's friends threw there constituted "assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon." The man's sister was treated for a burn at an unnamed hospital, Upton said.

The women said the alleged perpetrator and his sister followed them to Charles Ryan Road. According to police, the sister had parked there several hours before.

Although "it appears that several misdemeanor counts of assault and battery were committed by more than one person at this location," the report stated, the police could not figure out who started the violence.

Investigators concluded that the incident did not meet the requirements of the state civil rights violation statute.

Upton declined to identify the alleged perpetrator, following department policy, but said he had had no criminal history since 1993. Upton did not know whether the man planned to press charges himself.

Don Gorton of the Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, who requested the investigation, expressed disappointment. He said he believed the police failed to recognize the signs of a hate crime, specifically antilesbian epithets.

"Without ongoing training . . . it's all too understandable if [police] don't recognize them or give them the appropriate weight," Gorton said.

But Upton said an investigator from the family services unit who is "specifically trained in handling civil rights violations" participated in the investigation.

Daloia did not wish to comment, Gorton said. He said he planned to ask the Middlesex district attorney's office to examine the matter.

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