Update: UNC hate crime was false

Student could faces charges; Motive for false report unknown

by Matt Comer  Editor  editor@goqnotes.com
Published: April 12, 2011 in News

Originally published: April 12, 2011, 12:25 p.m.
Updated: April 12, 2011, 9:01 p.m.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced Tuesday evening that an earlier report of an alleged anti-gay hate crime on his campus was a false report.

Freshman Quinn Matney had told police he was attacked by a man on the university’s South Campus during the early morning hours of April 4. He said the man had branded him with an unidentified object and used an anti-gay slur.

“The Department of Public Safety has determined that the alleged aggravated assault reported to campus last night did not occur,” UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp said in a statement. “That report, filed with campus police on April 5, was false. The University will not report it as a hate crime.”

Thorp added, “It is important to recognize that incidents of harassment do occur. When they do, we take them seriously. We strive to foster a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment at Carolina.”

Police have not commented on Matney’s motive for filing the false report. The incident will not be reported to federal authorities.

UNC spokesman Mike McFarland told The Daily Tar Heel that Matney could face charges for the false report.

“The only other thing I can share is that the student is still enrolled at the University and charges are likely against him based on what the chancellor reported in the email,” he said.

Student leaders with the campus’ Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Straight Alliance (GLBTSA) had come out in support of Matney. Co-chairs Billy Kluttz and Jeff DeLuca declined to comment on these updates when contacted by The Daily Tar Heel.

Our original story appears below.

UNC freshman reports anti-gay hate crime
Student receives 3rd-, 4th-degree burns; UNC officials will report incident to federal investigators
Originally published: April 12, 2011, 12:25 p.m.

University of North Carolina freshman Quinn Matney says he was attacked in an apparent anti-gay hate crime in the early morning hours of April 4, The Daily Tar Heel reported.

Matney, a chemistry major from Asheville, says he was walking on the university’s South Campus around 3 a.m. when he stopped to speak to an acquaintance. A man standing nearby then approached Matney and branded him with an unidentified object.

“Here’s a taste of hell you f—-ing fag,” Matney says he remembers the assailant saying.

Matney says the unidentified assailant didn’t let go of him until Matney punched him. Matney sought treatment at an emergency room and campus health services before filing a police report the next day. The student received third- and fourth-degree burns that damaged three nerves and a tendon.

UNC officials have deemed the incident a hate crime. Chancellor Holden Thorp said in a statement Monday that the university plans to report the incident to the federal government.

Matney is also trying to find his acquaintance, whom he says he knows from campus though he doesn’t know his name. He hopes the student will corroborate his report.

Some UNC students say say they’re concerned it took officials a week to notify them of the attack.

“A very blatant hate crime against a GLBT individual occurred on this campus, and we only heard about it by word of mouth,” Jeff DeLuca, co-chair of the campus’ Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Straight Alliance (GLBTSA) told The Daily Tar Heel.

DeLuca’s group will hold a community forum on Thursday. They’ve invited university administrators to attend.

UNC Department of Public Safety Director Jeff McCracken says the suspect is being sought on charges of aggravated assault. Matney has described him as a white man with short brown hair and a large build, approximately 19 years old and standing 5 feet 10 inches.

The UNC community has dealt previously with an anti-gay attack. In 2005, junior Thomas Stockwell was assaulted by several men on Franklin St. Police also deemed that incident a hate crime (“Gay Chapel Hill student attacked,” March 12, 2005). Neither state nor federal law at the time codified attacks motivated by anti-LGBT bias as hate crimes. No suspects were ever apprehended. : :