Another Fake Hate Crime? Arrest Discredits Tennessee Anti-Gay Case
Posted on | December 28, 2013 | 24
Paris, Tennessee, is a town of 10,000 people about two hours west of Nashville, but it made national headlines last month:
Joe Williams, Tennessee Health Food Store
Owner, Beaten In Alleged Anti-Gay Hate Crime
Williams said three men beat him unconscious and wrote a “three-letter homophobic slur” on his forehead in the Nov. 20 attack:
The victim, identified by Fox 17 as 32-year-old Joe Williams, told the Paris Post-Intelligencer that a man had come into the shop earlier that day and asked him about his sexuality, before responding that he could not shop there if he was gay. He also said that he was called derogatory names during the beating, which took place as he was in the process of closing up the business for the night.
“I just fear for my life,” Williams told Fox 17. “I’m to the point now where I’m worried to even go outside … I live my life as a gay man and wasn’t ashamed of it and I just feel that I was targeted for that for that reason.”
The suspects also set Healthy Thyme on fire, causing about $5,500 in damages,according to WPSD.
Whether or not Paris, Tennessee, is such a hotbed of homophobic hatred as to cause Williams to fear for his life, however, it now appears that this alleged hate crime never happened:
A man who told police he had been robbed and beaten at a Paris health food store a few days before Thanksgiving was arrested after he allegedly withheld information about the incident and has now been charged with filing a false report.
Joe Williams, 32, of 803 E. Wood St. was arrested [Dec. 20] after turning himself in at the Henry County jail.
Williams originally told officers he had been beaten and robbed Nov. 20 at Healthy Thyme, which is at the same address as Williams’ home. . . .
Officers later found inconsistencies in Williams’ story. Paris Police Sgt. Ricky Watson said Williams failed to bring up certain facts known to investigators on three different occasions.
“He was given three opportunities to disclose that information, and he chose not to,” Watson said.
That leaves investigators trying to determine how much of Williams’ story might have been true.
“We’ve not been able to verify or dispel any of the statements made about the actual robbery or fire,” Watson said. “We’re looking into Mister Williams, and we’re looking into whether it did or did not happen.”
The apparent fakery by Williams probably won’t be reported in bold headlines by some outlets that reported the story originally.