Kresge Hate Crime Allegation Dropped

Former UCSC student Brandon Beaton acquitted of hate crime allegations

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Former UC Santa Cruz student, Brandon Beaton, was accused of being involved in an alleged hate crime at Kresge College in February 2015. Though Beaton was found guilty on three counts — assault causing great bodily injury, battery and resisting arrest — all other charges were dropped due to lack of evidence. Beaton is facing three years of probation.

“Jail time would not have been appropriate in this case where there was wrongdoing on many people’s parts, including participants who were not charged,” said public defender Heather Rogers in an email. “Mr. Beaton was tried and convicted by part of the UCSC community before the facts were in, based on statements that turned out to reflect a very biased view of what happened here.”

Beaton was charged with felony assault, battery and resisting arrest with enhancements of a hate crime and causing great bodily injury. One of the victims of the assault suffered a concussion, fractured jaw, dislocated hip and a broken wrist, and another had his nose broken, according to City on a Hill Press’s original coverage of the incident in 2015.

Kristina Oven, the prosecutor of the case, claimed that the assault came immediately after Beaton and a friend made homophobic remarks towards the victims before assaulting them, according to The Mercury News.

However, through testimonies by several witnesses and an investigation by the District Attorney’s office and UCSC, Rogers said in an email, the hate crime charge against Beaton was not supported by the evidence.

Following the alleged hate crime, UCSC’s LGBTQIA+ community quickly responded with a letter and petition to UCSC administration, calling for an increase of multi-stall, all-gender restrooms; free self-defense workshops/classes; mandatory university wide trainings to educate about “queer, trans and gender non-conforming life, existence, terminology and issues” and the immediate hire of multiple UCSC queer and transgender specialist staff.

One of the key leaders in forming the petition and recent UCSC graduate, Jamie Joy, recalls there being a lack of resources and support for the LGBTQIA+ community around the time of the assault and an intensifying demand for campuswide education on trans and queer life.

With the petition, which collected over 2,000 signatures and several letters of support from administrators and faculty, the trans and queer community obtained administrative funding for a full-time trans educator position and a trans inclusive housing option.

Although Beaton was not convicted for a hate crime, Joy insists it does not invalidate any of the community’s efforts.

“Our petition never had anything to do with sending this one person to jail or having this one person pay for what happened,” they said. “For me, it was about looking at this from an institutional level not an individual one.”

Provided Beaton abides by all laws, stays away from and pays restitution to the victims and completes 100 hours of community service through an LGBTQIA+ organization, if one is available, and follows all other probation terms, he will not face any jail time.