Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Attacked in His Own Home: An Indianapolis Man Who Was Tortured by Home Invaders Because He Is Gay Talks about How He Survived to Bring His Attackers to Justice. (Behind the Headlines)

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Attacked in His Own Home: An Indianapolis Man Who Was Tortured by Home Invaders Because He Is Gay Talks about How He Survived to Bring His Attackers to Justice. (Behind the Headlines)

Article excerpt

It took three years, but Indiana resident Joshua Runnels finally got justice on May 10 when Jamie Carson, the ringleader of three men who broke into his house and tortured him and his roommate in an antigay attack, was sentenced to 120 years in prison. Carson, 20, is the grandson of U.S. representative Julia Carson, an Indiana Democrat.

Runnels's nightmare began October 28, 1999, when Jamie Carson, Bryant Clark, and Joshua Powell, all then 18 and on a robbery spree, broke into the Indianapolis apartment Runnels, then 24, shared with Eric Heyob, who was also 24. When the robbers discovered the roommates were gay, they forced them to strip and have sex. They were then tied up, beaten, and tortured with a steam iron. In addition, Runnels was forced to drink a mixture of urine and bleach.

Although Indiana does not have a hate-crimes law, prosecutor Richard Plath emphasized homophobia as a motivation for the attack to secure a more severe sentence for Carson. Clark and Powell, who were also found guilty, still face sentencing.

What happened that night in your apartment?

I awoke to the covers being ripped off me and a gun pointed at my face. Due to gay magazines and posters of nude men in the apartment, they asked me if I was gay. I have no problem with who I am, and if I was going to die, I would die knowing I was proud to say I was a gay man. But this escalated the abuse. Throughout the attack, I wasn't scared. I have been through other miserable times during my life, and I knew if I didn't die then, there was a purpose to my life. Due to my not being enraged or scared of these cowards, there was no fear, and I believe they sensed that. Maybe it was the will of a higher power--whatever; they eventually got scared and left. My leg was so badly beaten, I couldn't walk. My roommate and I had to chew ourselves out of the ties that bound us together, and my roommate called 911. …

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