Police are investigating the assault of a lesbian couple outside a Scottsdale nightclub as a hate crime, information Julie Melson said she was relieved to hear Thursday.
"I’m glad that they are going to do the right thing," said Melson, 38, who was attacked about 1 a.m. April 4 as she and Suzanne King left the Rogue Bar, 423 N. Scottsdale Road.
"Screaming slurs at someone while you are beating them is definitely a hate crime," she said.
She and King had been celebrating King’s 32nd birthday with several friends and were walking out of the bar when King was punched by a woman, Melson said.
When a man next to the woman started yelling slurs regarding their sexual orientation, Melson swung at him. She then suddenly found herself at the bottom of a "dog pile" of kicking and punching men.
Another man pulled down the top of King’s strapless dress, while a man with a cell phone camera took pictures. Melson was pulled free of the men in about a minute by other bar patrons.
Melson said a city prosecutor recently called the Phoenix apartment she shares with King to say the case was being pursued.
The two women knew only one of their attackers, police said.
Melson said one positive thing to come out of the incident has been the attention it has received from civil, human and gay rights organizations.
"So many people are interested in making sure the right thing happens," she said.
Michele Culver, a member of Scottsdale’s Human Relations Commission, said the assault was one of several issues discussed last week in a meeting with Police Chief Alan G. Rodbell and other city officials.
"We are very pleased, at this current point, with the response that we got,"