Illinois Teen Faces Three Years Jail Sentence for Potentially Fraudulent ‘Hate Crime’

Selective prosecution illustrates danger of ‘hate crimes’ laws

brettvanasdlen1.jpg

Brett VanAsdlen

TAKE ACTION: 1) Urge Champaign County, Illinois State’s Attorney Julia Rietz (phone: 217-384-3733) to drop the government’s one-sided felony “hate crimes” prosecution against 18-year-old student-athlete Brett VanAsdlen — based on the inconsistent and likely exaggerated claims of Steven Velasquez, a homosexual University of Illinois (U of I) student who may have initiated physical contact with VanAsdlen. Already, Brett is being smeared as violent “gay-basher” by Velasquez and pro-homosexual activists in the media. Pray for Brett and his family.

2) Call or write WCIA-3 TV, the local CBS affiliate, and urge them to be fair in their coverage of this unfortunate story. Call (217) 373-3650 and ask for Producer Nancy Foreman. WCIA reporter Amanda Evans has led the TV coverage of the story, but her reporting appears to heavily favor Velasquez. It is wrong to smear the reputation of young man by airing all the accusations against him without presenting the other side of the story.

_____________________________

By Peter LaBarbera

CHAMPAIGN-URBANA, Illinois — Two young men — one homosexual, one heterosexual — tell very different stories about an argument that occurred late on a Friday night (April 11) in this college town, but only one — the straight student-athlete — faces a felony “hate crime” conviction with a maximum penalty of up to three years in prison.

Brett VanAsdlen faces a Class 4 felony hate crime after originally being charged with aggravated battery following an incident in which he pushed 20-year-old homosexual University of Illinois student Steven Velasquez to the ground. The critical question is: why did he push Velasquez and who was aggressor? VanAsdlen’s family says it was Velasquez who — after Brett made a comment about Velasquez and his homosexual partner — first “got in Brett’s face,” to which Brett responded by pushing Velasquez away. Velasquez claims that Brett attacked him unprovoked because of his homosexuality.

You can read and watch WCIA-TV’s initial, one-sided account of the incident featuring an interview with Velasquez HERE — which set the tone for those seeking to portray VanAsdlen as a violent hate criminal.

Obviously, it is difficult ascertain the facts about this case because we lack direct access to the principals. AFTAH has not been able to acquire a police report of the incident, but we have learned the aggravated battery charge has been dropped. Velasquez is getting his version of events out in the sympathetic media, and it is being trumpeted as a vicious “hate crime” by various homosexual and leftist websites including Daily Kos, but Brett’s side of the story is not getting out. We did speak with Brett’s mother, as did pro-family advocate Ted Pike, who first alerted the nation to the story. Here is an excerpt from Pike’s original account, based on his phone conversation with Rona Lee VanAsdlen (emphasis added):

The police department of Champaign, Illinois is reported to be under pressure from higher authorities to increase its quota of hate crimes convictions. Brett VanAsdlen, an 18 year-old Christian college student on a baseball scholarship, didn’t know this. On April 12 he and a friend saw two homosexuals leaning on each other and holding hands, walking toward them on the sidewalk. “Look at those two guys holding hands,” Brett said to his friend and walked past them. According to Brett’s mother, the next thing he knew, one of the homosexuals (whom he perceived to be drunk) had grabbed him by the shoulder, putting his face up to Brett’s and repeatedly shouting, “What did you say?” Brett told him to go away several times and then pushed him. The homosexual fell over backwards. On his back, the homosexual told his partner to call the police. In eight minutes, four officers arrived. Two interviewed Brett and his friend and assured them there would be no problem. Brett had been physically accosted and detained, clearly an assault. The other two officers interviewed the homosexual, who was taken to the hospital.

Note that we cannot vouch for the accuracy of this account, which of course is coming from a source (Brett’s mother) very sympathetic to the young man now charged with a “hate crime.” It is conceivable to this writer that young VanAsdlen might have made an untoward or derogatory comment about the homosexual couple, sparking the confrontation. But there is no law against speech critical of homosexuality (yet) and if it is true that Velasquez grabbed Brett, then perhaps he was the real (i.e., physical) aggressor.

Brett’s mother, Rona Lee, confirmed the account above to Americans For Truth, although she did not say what exactly Brett said to the homosexual couple. She did say that Brett did not initiate physical contact with Velasquez but that the homosexual “grabbed” Brett first — and then badgered him about the comment he had made. She said Velasquez was yelling at Brett and “in his face” and that Brett told him twice to get away from him before pushing him away. She and others familiar with the encounter said that Velasquez never lost consciousness.

Rona Lee described her son as a “happy, good natured” kid who “never dreamed that something like this could happen to him.” She said he did not take the arrest as seriously as he should have — especially after police told him it would be no big deal — and that Brett may even have neglected to state in the official police report that Velasquez was the first to make contact — a critical point in the story.

The VanAsdlen family is Christian and attends the nondenominational Minooka Bible Church, in Minooka, Illinois. Rona Lee says her son Brett, her oldest child (he has two brothers and a sister), is a “people person” — a conservative Christian but “not straight-laced” — who is “so naive it’s scary. … he had no idea what was in store for him.”

Rona Lee said she was very thankful that one of Brett’s teammates, Kevin Crane, was with him when the incident occurred, and can serve as a witness to what truly happened that night. She said neither she nor her husband have seen a police report of the incident.

Athletic Director says Brett is no hater

Brett transferred from Purdue University to Parkland College, a junior college in Champaign, after receiving a baseball scholarship and assurances that he would get more playing time than if he had remained at Purdue. After the alleged “hate crime” April 12, Brett was suspended from the baseball team pending the outcome of his court case.

Parkland College Athletic Director Rod Lovett told AFTAH that VanAsdlen’s removal from the team was handled as an “internal matter” for violating the college’s athletic code of conduct. He said Brett will have a right to appeal to be returned to the team following the resolution of the court case, and hoped it will be resolved by this summer so that Brett can train with the team in August. Lovett was skeptical of the trumped-up “hate crime” aspect of the case and said he hopes for a speedy resolution of the matter.

Lovett said he is aware of “both sides of the story” and sympathetic to Brett’s plight. “He didn’t set out to have conflict” that evening, he said. Asked if while on the Parkland baseball team, Brett ever exhibited irrational hatred of the type associated with “hate crimes,” he said no, and that he saw no “ongoing issue” in Brett’s life of “brewing” animosity toward any particular group.

“He’s a typical 18- or 19-year-old kid,” Lovett said, granting that young men that age can an do act immaturely. Lovett said he “wasn’t particularly thrilled” by WCIA’s coverage of the incident, including one story in which an activist accused VanAsdlen of a “brutal attack” against Valasquez.

“Regardless of what it was, it was never a brutal attack,” he said, adding that WCIA is the only TV station in Champaign giving major attention to the story.

I attended yesterday’s brief preliminary hearing, where Brett VanAsdlen — a strapping, clean-cut, All-American looking young man — and his family members learned that his next court appearance (another preliminary hearing) will be July 1, when Brett turns 19. Afterward, Amanda Evans, the WCIA reporter, interviewed Brett VanAsdlen’s attorney, Steve Beckett, who said that this case is about “two kids who ran into each other on the streets,” and that the facts are disputed.

He said, he said

So this is a case of “he said, he said” — but the special treatment of it thus far illustrates why conservatives and traditionalists oppose “hate crimes” laws as fundamentally unfair and open to abuse:

  • Brett VanAsdlen’s name and reputation are being sullied by the media and “gay” and leftist blogs without regard to any objective record of the incident;
  • With all the late-night altercations that happen in a college town, why does a young man face a felony conviction because of this one? (If convicted, Brett would be banned from voting for life and his record would be stained permanently; his mother noted that it would hinder his ability to be hired as a teacher or coach, one of his goals);
  • If it is true that the aggravated battery charge against VanAsdlen was dropped, why are prosecutors continuing to pursue the felony hate-crimes charge against the young man?
  • Are Champaign police are under pressure to make “hate crimes” arrests?
  • If it is true that the alleged homosexual victim, Stephen Velasquez, is distorting what happened the night of April 12 to further an agenda — there have been many examples of fake “hate crimes” reported across the country — it is fascinating how much mileage he has gotten from it, all at the expense of Brett VanAsdlen. When you are at the top of a politically correct hierarchy of victims, much injustice can occur whether there is a trial or not to sort it all out.

Selective prosecution

The true danger of hate-crimes laws is selective prosecution and unequal protection under the law. If a homosexual were to push an obnoxious Christian onto the ground, or things got out of control after a verbal spat, would he be facing a felony hate-crime conviction and possible jail time in Champaign, Illinois right now? I think most readers know that answer to that question, and it speaks volumes.

In 1996, pro-family activist and Pilgrims Covenant Church pastor Ralph Ovadal, then with Wisconsin Christians United, was punched in the left ear from behind by a pro-homosexual activist while protesting a pro-homosexual event in Madison, Wisconsin. Ovadal was knocked unconscious and taken to the hospital with serious injuries from the blind-side assault. Although police first charged the attacker with “substantial batter,” Dane Country prosecutors did not even secure a misdemeanor conviction against Ovadal’s assailant.

According to Ovadal’s website, “The day before the trial of Pastor Ovadal’s assailant, the D.A. calls to inform Ovadal that there will be no trial because his attacker’s charges are being dropped from substantial battery to an ordinance violation because he ‘does not want to have a criminal record.’ Pastor Ovadal continues to suffer neck and leg pain from the brutal attack which is fully documented with police reports.”

Clearly, Ralph Ovadal’s case was not treated as a “hate crime” because he was the wrong type of victim. If it were the other way around and Ovadal had beaten a homosexual activist, Ralph would probably still be in jail today.

Now, here in Illinois, we see a case in which a boy has words with a homosexual, who then apparently became so agitated that he got in Brett’s face until the boy pushed him away. (We do not know; they may have shared guilt in causing the conflict.) Now this young man, Brett VanAsdlen, faces a felony conviction and jail time — not to mention that his good name is being destroyed by “gay” activists and the sympathetic media and that he will miss the baseball season after transferring to the team to make the most of his talents.

And Mrs. VanAsdlen worries that legal costs to defend her son may rise to $20,000 or $30,000. AFTAH will be following this case closely. Meanwhile, please pray and take action:

TAKE ACTION: 1) Urge Champaign County, Illinois State’s Attorney Julia Rietz (phone: (217) 384-3733) to drop the government’s one-sided felony “hate crimes” prosecution against 18-year-old student-athlete Brett VanAsdlen — based on the inconsistent and likely exaggerated claims of Stephen Velasquez, a homosexual University of Illinois (U of I) student who may have initiated physical contact with VanAsdlen. Already, Brett is being smeared as violent “gay-basher” by Valasquez and pro-homosexual activists in the media. Pray for Brett and his family.

2) Call or write WCIA-3 TV, the local CBS affiliate, and urge them to be fair in their coverage of this unfortunate story. Call (217) 373-3650 and ask for Producer Nancy Foreman. WCIA reporter Amanda Evans has led the TV coverage of the story, but her reporting appears to heavily favor Velasquez. It is wrong to smear the reputation of young man by airing all the accusations against him without presenting the other side of the story.

This article was posted on Wednesday, May 7th, 2008 at 4:03 pm and is filed under Bible, CBS, E - Praying for the Lost, Government Promotion, Hate Crimes Prosecution, Hate Speech (Laws), Illinois, News, Pro-Homosexual Media, The Bible, Churches, & Homosexuality. You can follow any updates to this article through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Support Americans for Truth about Homosexuality

Americans for Truth
P.O. Box 5522
Naperville, IL 60567-5522


Americans for Truth Radio Hour

Americans for Truth Academy

Want to See Every New AFTAH Article?

If you don't want to miss anything posted on the Americans For Truth website, sign up for our "Feedblitz" service that gives you a daily email of every new article that we post. (This service DOES NOT replace the regular email list.) To sign up for the Feedblitz service, click here.