On Thursday, April 5, Flathead District Judge Ted O. Lympus denied a bond reduction to Kirk Riddle, a Washington native charged with aggravated assault for attacking another man on March 16, allegedly because the victim is gay. Riddle requested the court release him on his own recognizance, or give him house arrest. His bond remains set at $100,000.
During the hearing, Deputy County Attorney Dan Guzynski noted Riddle has a history of assault and resisting arrest. Guzynski also said the attack was “unprovoked,” and Riddle repeatedly called the victim a “faggot.” Riddle denied using the slur.
Ultimately, it is not necessary for Guzynski to prove the crime was motivated by sexual orientation as Montana’s hate crime statute does not cover assaults committed because of the victim’s sexuality. When an assault is charged as a hate crime—current law covers crimes committed because of race, creed, religion, color, national origin and involvement in civil rights or human rights activities—it allows two to 10 years to be added to the sentence.
Contrary to an initial interview with Flathead County Sheriff’s Deputy Bob Provo about the March 16 beating, when Provo told the Independent the victim received “bruises and abrasions,” the injuries proved to be severe. Flathead County Sheriff Mike Meehan says Provo was not completely familiar with the report when he first spoke about the incident.
“My nose is completely shattered, my sinuses are shattered…,” said the victim, who requested anonymity, in a recent interview with the Independent. “There are two breaks in my top jaw…my eye sockets on both sides are split and broke, and there’s eggshell fractures all throughout them. My septum is separated from my nose, my ankle is broken on the outside and broken going up the inside… I had a cut across my nose that was stitched, I had stitches where my nostril was ripped…”
The victim also produced medical records and photographs taken immediately after the incident, showing his face to be swollen and bruised, one of his eyes completely swollen shut and the other barely open. He says he’s lived in the Flathead his entire life and nothing like this has ever happened to him.
Riddle’s arraignment is scheduled for Thursday, April 12.