Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 3 / 19 January 2017
 

One man robbed, shot; another hit with bottle in Dolores Park incidents

Dolores Park (Photo: Pete Thoshinsky)

Dolores Park (Photo: Pete Thoshinsky)

One man who was being robbed near San Francisco’s Dolores Park was shot as he struggled with a suspect over a handgun, and another man in the park was hit on the head with a bottle in separate incidents Thursday night, January 5.

The shooting occurred at 9 p.m. at 18th and Dolores streets when two men who appeared to be 25 approached the victim, who’s 29, and asked him for a cigarette. He told one of the men “he doesn’t smoke,” police said.

Then, after the suspect asked for a lighter and the victim pulled one out, the suspect “pulled out a handgun.”

The victim grabbed onto the gun, and “a struggle ensued,” police said.

While a second suspect took the victim’s wallet from the pocket of his pants, the gun discharged. The victim was hit. Police said he was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The suspects, who stole the victim’s wallet, cash, a debit card, and cellphone, fled on foot toward Diamond Heights Boulevard.

Police said one of the suspects is Hispanic and the other is black, but no other descriptive details were released.

Earlier Thursday, at 4:30 p.m., someone told the 22-year-old victim that a man had robbed them. When the victim approached the suspect to confront him, the suspect hit the victim “on the head with a bottle,” police said.

The victim was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

No arrests have been made in either case.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, January 6, 2017 @ 5:23 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


SF mayor names gay AIDS advocate to vacant District 8 supervisor seat

Jeff Sheehy. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Jeff Sheehy. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Ending weeks of speculation, Mayor Ed Lee has named gay AIDS advocate Jeff Sheehy to the vacant District 8 seat on the Board of Supervisors. His selection ensures there is LGBT representation at City Hall, as no LGBT candidates had won election to the board this fall.

He will also become the first person living with HIV to serve on the city’s Board of Supervisors.

“Jeff Sheehy has spent his entire life fighting for his community and for what he believes is right, and I know that as supervisor, Jeff will be a proven fighter for the residents of his district, and for our entire city, too,” Lee said in a statement released Friday morning.

The Bay Area Reporter had disclosed in early December that Sheehy had emerged as a strong candidate for the vacancy, which resulted from gay former Supervisor Scott Wiener’s election to the state Senate in November.

Sheehy, who had served as former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s adviser on AIDS issues, lives with his husband, Bill Berry, and their daughter Michelle in Glen Park. He is well known among LGBT Democratic Party activists, having served as a leader of the progressive Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club in the mid-1990s.

In his statement, the mayor pointed to Sheehy’s being and activist, advocate, and dad with a daughter in public school.

“Jeff is tested, mature, passionate, and pragmatic,” Lee stated.

Wiener praised the election.

“I fully support Mayor Lee’s decision to appoint Jeff Sheehy to represent District 8 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors,” he said in a statement Friday morning. “Jeff has my total support and confidence, and I will do whatever I can to support his work for the residents of District 8 and for San Francisco.

“Jeff is an extraordinary leader and exactly what we need right now – a strong, decisive, and passionate voice for our shared progressive values, and someone who deeply understands the needs of our neighborhoods,” Wiener added.

Sheehy currently serves on the governing board of the state’s stem cell research agency, known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and is director for communications at the UCSF AIDS Research Institute. Sheehy was also a founding member of the steering committee of San Francisco’s Getting to Zero Consortium.

He will be sworn in at 10 a.m. Monday, January 9 at City Hall with the winners of the odd-numbered supervisor races on the November ballot. Now considered a moderate, Sheehy is expected to side with the board’s six-member moderate majority on the 11-person board.

He won’t have to run for election to a full four-year term in the District 8 seat until 2018, as there are no municipal elections next year. And because of the timing of his swearing-in to serve out the remainder of Wiener’s term, Sheehy will be eligible to run for a second four-year term in 2022 should he be elected in two years.

Losing out for the supervisor seat covering the city’s gay Castro district, as well as the neighborhoods of Noe Valley, Diamond Heights and Glen Park, was gay City College of San Francisco Trustee Alex Randolph, who was another leading contender for the vacancy, as was James Loduca, who is also gay and in October resigned as the San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s senior vice president.

Others whose names had been mentioned over the last two months for the seat included Conor Johnston, a gay man who is chief of staff to board President London Breed; and Rebecca Prozan, Google’s chief of public policy and government affairs who lives with her wife, Julia Adams, in the Castro and had lost to Wiener in the 2010 supervisor race.

The names of two gay mayoral aides, Francis Tsang and Paul Henderson, had also been floated. Early on Dan Bernal, a gay man who is HIV positive and chief of staff in Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco office, had withdrawn his name from consideration, as had lesbian library commissioner Zoe Dunning.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on the new District 8 supervisor in its January 12 issue.

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 5, 2017 @ 11:53 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Pacifica man may face more rape charges

Joseph Paul Courtney (Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff's Department)

Joseph Paul Courtney (Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department)

A Pacifica man already accused of raping seven men is facing allegations from two additional victims, according to his attorney.

Joseph Paul Courtney, 32, of Pacifica, was arrested July 28 and is being held in Redwood City’s Maguire Correctional Facility on $10 million bail.

In an email Thursday (January 5), Courtney’s attorney, Steven Chase, said, “I am expecting new discovery” from the prosecutor “on some more complainants.”

Asked in a phone interview how many more complainants there are, Chase said, “Two is what I’ve been told, and I don’t know anything about them.” He said he hasn’t received the police reports, and he has “no idea” when the alleged incidents took place.

Chase said, “I would imagine” the latest complainants are men.

“I don’t think Mr. Courtney has any interest in women,” he said.

Courtney’s so far pleaded not guilty to numerous charges including sodomy by use of force, sodomy by anesthesia or use of a controlled substance, sodomy of an unconscious victim, possession of child pornography, and second-degree robbery. He’s also denied allegations that he tied or bound his victims. He could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

The criminal complaint against Courtney also includes an allegation that he committed the alleged offenses knowing that he has AIDS.

Chase previously said charges in the case may have stemmed from “consensual sex.”

“It’s not like people were dragged off the street and given drugs that they did not ingest voluntarily to have an enhanced sexual experience,” he said.

In a case summary he provided in the case when there were only three alleged victims, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said, “On three separate occasions involving three separate male victims, [Courtney] met with the victim for consensual sex twice at his residence and once at a Comfort Suites Motel. On each occasion, [the] defendant drugged the victims with GHB (date rape drug) and other drugs, knocking them unconscious.”

Additionally, the DA said, Courtney “and unidentified male associates proceeded to have sex with the unconscious victims and on one occasion showed the victim the video recording of the unconscious sex by multiple men.”

Captain Joseph Spanheimer, a Pacifica police spokesman, said in a news release this summer that, “Investigators found that Courtney often used websites and smartphone ‘apps’ to contact his victims,” and that he’d “also had contact with minor males for the purpose of engaging in sexual intercourse.”

Spanheimer has also said that the incidents started in 2007, and police had been investigating Courtney “for almost a year” before his arrest.

Several of the charges would require Courtney to register as a sex offender if he’s convicted.

His next court date is January 17 to set a date for a preliminary hearing, when a judge will determine if there’s enough evidence to hold him for trial.

Courtney has declined an interview request.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 5:24 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Former SF Examiner publisher Anschutz comes out for LGBT rights

AEG CEO Philip F. Anschutz

AEG CEO Philip F. Anschutz. Photo: AP

In a surprising statement released this afternoon, the owner of the entertainment behemoth AEG came out publicly in support of LGBT rights.

Philip F. Anschutz, the owner of AEG, which stands for Anschutz Entertainment Group, also stated for the first time that he and the foundation his family controls no longer donate to organizations that support anti-LGBT discrimination.

The former publisher of the San Francisco Examiner, which his company Clarity Media sold in 2011 seven years after buying it, Anschutz also owns the company that produces the southern California music festival Coachella as well as the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team, which plays at AEG’s StubHub Center in Los Angeles and employs gay soccer star Robbie Rogers.

In the past two days media reports have focused on past giving by Anschutz and his foundation to organizations that espouse anti-LGBT views and oppose abortion, such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council, and the National Christian Foundation. The reports also highlighted the oil and gas billionaire’s denial of  climate change.

The timing of the media reports, such as in UPROXX and TeenVogue, came after the announcement that Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, and Radiohead are the headliners for Coachella 2017. It led to San Francisco-based magazine 7X7 polling its readers today if they would boycott the music fest.

The reports apparently infuriated Anschutz, according to an AEG source, and prompted the intensely private businessman to issue this statement:

“Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news – it is all garbage. I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation. We are fortunate to employ a wealth of diverse individuals throughout our family of companies, all of whom are important to us – the only criteria on which they are judged is the quality of their job performance; we do not tolerate discrimination in any form.

“Both The Anschutz Foundation and I contribute to numerous organizations that pursue a wide range of causes.  Neither I nor the Foundation fund any organization with the purpose or expectation that it would finance anti-LGBTQ initiatives, and when it has come to my attention or the attention of The Anschutz Foundation that certain organizations either the Foundation or I have funded have been supporting such causes, we have immediately ceased all contributions to such groups.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 4:17 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Alleged San Mateo burglar accused of grabbing men’s genitals

A San Mateo man accused of burglarizing several homes, grabbing men’s genitals, and making victims “spank or hug him” has pleaded not guilty to numerous charges, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Thursday (January 5).

Ismael Espinoza-Vazquez, 24, allegedly broke into five homes and stole victims’ property, Wagstaffe said in a summary.

“In two of the burglaries, the victims were home,” and Espinoza-Vazquez grabbed their genitals and made them spank him or give him a hug, according to Wagstaffe. He indicated the incidents occurred Sunday, January 2.

In June, Wagstaffe said, Espinoza-Vazquez entered a 24-Hour Fitness gym in San Mateo, grabbed a man who was drying off after showering, “held his genitals,” and left. (The DA confirmed in an email that all the victims are men.)

Additionally, in July 2015, Espinoza-Vazquez burglarized a car and stole $2,200 worth of property, Wagstaffe said.

At his arraignment Wednesday, January 4, Espinoza-Vazquez pleaded not guilty to charges including first-degree burglary, attempted first-degree burglary, sexual battery, and battery of a peace officer. He’s currently in custody on $300,000 bail at Maguire Correctional Facility in Redwood City.

San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Hugo Borja appointed the county’s Private Defender Program to represent him, but an attorney hasn’t been assigned.

A preliminary hearing, where a judge will decide whether there’s enough evidence to hold Espinoza-Vazquez for trial, is set for January 17.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 4:11 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Man attacked in Castro robbery

18th and Collingwood streets (Photo: Google)

18th and Collingwood streets (Photo: Google)

A man who’d been on his way home was attacked and robbed in San Francisco’s Castro district early Saturday morning, police said.

The December 31 incident, which was reported at 12:15 a.m., started when the 39-year-old victim, who was holding his phone, was walking home on Collingwood Street near 18th Street. A man shoved him to the ground and punched him once, then stole his phone and fled on foot.

The victim was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. There was no suspect description. No arrests have been made.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, January 4, 2017 @ 4:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Gay man who lost Pride nudity case dies of apparent suicide

by Karen Ocamb

The shocking loss of his federal discrimination case against the San Diego Police Department may have been too much for Will X. Walters to handle. Since Gay Pride in 2011, he fought against his arrest on charges of public nudity, racking up about $1 million in legal costs over the years, only to have a federal jury rule in favor of the police on December 13. On Wednesday night (December 28), police found his body in his Hillcrest apartment, an apparent suicide, the San Diego Union Tribune reported (http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/courts/sd-me-walters-death-20161229-story.html).

(Plaintiff Will X. Walters. Photo: Vito Di Stefano)

(Plaintiff Will X. Walters. Photo: Vito Di Stefano)

Chris Morris, Walters’ attorney, said the gay man was “shocked” by the verdict on the April appeal of his original case (http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca9/14-55495/14-55495-2016-04-05.html). He immediately left the federal courthouse in downtown San Diego and did not respond to Morris or friends’ attempts to contact him. Police told the Union Tribune that the exact time of his death is not known; the medical examiner’s office is investigating.

Just days before the verdict, on December 10 in the afternoon, Walters posted a “Thank you” to the community on The Pride LA Facebook page, after the most recent report on his case: https://thepridela.com/2016/12/trial-starts-san-diego-pride-nudity-case/.

“Will Walters Everyone thank you so much for your support, being in the trenches of this court case is very hard and I really appreciate everyone’s kind words,” the post reads. “I also want to thank Jeffrey Davidson for his comment as well, because my case is not only about the 14th amendment, it’s about defending the entire Constitution. The reason I continue this fight is so that we all can continue giving our opinions and we can enjoy the luxury of equal enforcement as well as freedom of speech. We need to remember that EVERY freedom in the Bill of Rights are rights that so many people around the world do not enjoy. I continue this fight not because of myself, but for everyone and I want to thank everyone for allowing me to represent them in this struggle. Regardless win or lose, it’s been a really long journey and myself, my friends and my legal team have fought as hard as we could, but it’s all to support my fellow Americans and again I want to thank everyone. You all are so amazing and God Bless America!”

The case was a real stunner, considering other Pride and LGBT events, including Halloween in West Hollywood. His complaint, filed in federal court in March 2012, (http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/03/13/44633.htm), alleged selective enforcement of the unused public nudity municipal code by officers of the San Diego Police Department.

“Will Walters is a Hispanic, gay man who owns the dubious distinction of being the only person in the history of the city of San Diego to be arrested and booked on a charge of public nudity,” the complaint states. “Mr. Walters was arrested for public nudity at the 2011 Lesbian Gay Bi-Sexual Transgender Pride (‘Pride’) event while wearing an opaque gladiator type kilt over black underwear. Under any definition, he was not nude, as his buttocks and genitalia were fully covered. Nevertheless, he was ushered out of the event, humiliated, arrested, and incarcerated.”

Walters alleged that the city’s enforcement of its public nudity law “essentially allows thongs, G-strings, and other skimpy bathing suits to be worn by participants and attendees at straight special events, but not by attendees and participants at the one gay special event, Pride.”

To read the full story, visit https://thepridela.com/2016/12/will-walters-gay-man-lost-san-diego-pride-nudity-case-dies-apparent-suicide/.

— Cynthia Laird, December 30, 2016 @ 11:48 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Men stabbed near Dolores Park, Castro home burglarized

Dolores Park (Photo: Pete Thoshinsky)

Dolores Park (Photo: Pete Thoshinsky)

Two men were stabbed early Tuesday morning near San Francisco’s Dolores Park.

The occurred at 3 a.m. December 27 when the men, both 20,
who’d been “hanging out” in the area of 20th and Church streets were approached by two suspects who asked one of the men for his wallet. When he said, “No,” one suspect stabbed him and his companion in the face, according to Officer Robert Rueca, a police spokesman. Both suspects fled on foot.

The victims were taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Nothing was stolen.

Rueca described the suspects as Hispanic males in their mid-20s.

In another recent incident, three men were burglarized in the Castro district.

At 7 p.m. on Christmas Day, Sunday, December 25, Rueca said, the men were cooking for the holiday in the upstairs kitchen of a house in the first block of Hartford Street.

One of the men, who’s 71, went downstairs to the home’s in-law unit and discovered that his credit card, watch, and wedding ring were missing. A watch and cash belonging to the second victim, 54; and clothing belonging to the third victim, 59, were also missing. The back door was “wide open,” Rueca said.

“No suspect was seen,” he said.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 28, 2016 @ 4:26 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Trial on hold for queer East Bay man accused of stalking, death threats

Demarus Allen-Batieste (Photo: Musicallyminded.org)

Demarus Allen-Batieste (Photo: Musicallyminded.org)

The trial of a queer East Bay man accused of stalking and threatening to kill a former mentor is on hold as doctors examine whether he’s mentally competent.

Demarus Allen-Batieste, 30, of Hercules, California, was “a gifted student” who in 2013 got a scholarship to study at the Zurich Symphony, where the female victim worked, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said in a summary.

The woman, whose name wasn’t released, mentored Allen-Batieste and other students, but after he developed a “serious mental illness,” he was expelled from the symphony and returned to the United States, Wagstaffe said.

Allen-Batieste then “started stalking” the woman “and threatened her with multiple vile emails,” according to the DA. “The emails included threats to kill the victim and numerous delusional threats” to her.

The case had been scheduled for jury trial Tuesday, December 27, but Mark Camperi, Allen-Batieste’s attorney, expressed doubt about his client’s competency to stand trial and filed a motion for his mental state to be examined.

Two doctors had already concluded in 2015 that Allen-Batieste was competent, Wagstaffe said, but Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Mark Forcum “reluctantly granted the renewed competency motion and suspended criminal proceedings.”

Forcum appointed Doctors Jeffrey Gould and George Wilkinson to examine Allen-Batieste, and the trial date was vacated. The next court date is February 7, 2017 for receipt of the doctors’ report and to schedule future competency proceedings.

Allen-Batieste, who’s been charged with making criminal threats, stalking, and being in contempt of court., is out of custody on $150,000 bail.

In response to emailed questions, Allen-Batieste said, “I haven’t done anything illegal that is resultant in a violation of the law,” and “I have never committed a violent physical or mental attack aimed at another person with intent to harm.”

He said that he’s “absolutely” competent to stand trial.

“With the help of great clinicians I am able to maintain my illness without medication,” he said.

In August 2015, Allen-Batieste entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity in the case. He rejected an unspecified offer from prosecutors in November 2016, Wagstaffe said.

He had attended Northwestern University on a music scholarship he got with help from the nonprofit Students Rising Above before he went to Zurich, according to Wagstaffe.

Deputy District Attorney Alpana D. Samant is prosecuting the case.

The Bay Area Reporter also spoke with Allen-Batieste recently about claims he filed in October against staff at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, his former employer. His allegations include “emotional distress, racial discrimination, failure to act to prevent sexual harassment,” and “wrongful termination.”

SFAF staff have declined to comment on the claims, which are pending in San Francisco Superior Court.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 3:36 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Cafe Flore sold to LGBT buyers

by Sari Staver

The Castro’s iconic Cafe Flore has been purchased by LGBT buyers who intend to keep the popular outdoor eatery much the same as it has been in recent years.

(Cafe Flore has been sold.)

(Cafe Flore has been sold.)

According to sources close to the transaction, the sale will close escrow January 2.

Complete details of the sale, including an interview with the new owners, will be in next week’s Bay Area Reporter.

The 43-year-old restaurant has been for sale since July, when the current owners listed the business and its liquor license for sale for $495,000. (http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=71721)

The funky dining and drinking spot, which was awarded best place for lunch and best outdoor patio in the Bay Area Reporter’s Besties readers’ poll in 2016, has hosted many charity fundraisers and community events, including last year’s 25th anniversary party for ACT UP.

The property is currently owned by a partnership that includes Realtor Steven “Stu” Gerry, who had told the B.A.R. that there was a lot of interest by potential buyers. Three groups of potential buyers scheduled appointments to see the restaurant the day after it went on the market. The property, owned by J.D. Petras, was not for sale.

According to the San Francisco Heritage website, the building that Cafe Flore occupies dates back to the early 20th century when the Castro was then known as “Little Scandinavia” due to the large numbers of Nordic immigrants who called the district home. The plot of land that would eventually become Cafe Flore originally contained a Swedish bathhouse.

The designer of the building, Alfred Finnila, later contributed to the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, where he oversaw the iron and roadway installation.

— Cynthia Laird, @ 3:12 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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