A gay Yale Law School student was assaulted earlier this month, ostensibly because of his sexuality, according to a New Haven Police Department report.
On Saturday, April 5, Craig Konnoth LAW ’10 was assaulted by two unidentified males outside the New Haven Towers apartment complex near the intersection of Crown and High streets, one block from Old Campus, according to the report. While the NHPD responded to the crime Saturday, the Yale Police Department had no record of the assault until contacted by the News on Monday, 10 days after the NHPD report was filed.
University administrators were also unaware of the incident until informed by a News reporter on Tuesday. Konnoth said he did not publicly come forward about the assault to University administrators because he thought the incident was isolated from campus life.
According to the police report, Konnoth was riding his bicycle home from the Law School prom when two men confronted him and one asked for a ride on his bike. NHPD spokesman Officer Joe Avery said the assailants may have been trying to steal Konnoth’s bike.
In an interview Tuesday evening, Konnoth said he jokingly entertained the man’s request because he was in a good mood and slightly intoxicated.
As Konnoth went to park the bike in the New Haven Towers complex, one of the men confronted him again, according to the report.
“Did you call me a faggot?” he allegedly demanded.
Konnoth said his response — that he would not call anyone a faggot because he is gay himself — prompted one of the men to pull the other backwards in an apparent attempt to convince him to leave. At that point, Konnoth said, he may have aggravated the situation by asking the men: “Is there a problem with that?”
One of the men then punched Konnoth at least once in the mouth and both men immediately fled, Konnoth said. He told police he would be able to identify the individuals but was unable to provide a physical description, according to the report.
Konnoth said he then walked into the lobby of the Crown Towers where first-year Law School students attended to him and called the police. The students could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
The NHPD officer who responded to the scene made a note of Konnoth’s lip, which appeared to have been bloodied. Konnoth said Tuesday evening he had a gash on his head and a sore back, which he said may have resulted from him falling or being punched elsewhere, but those details were not included in the report.
Members of Yale’s LGBTQ community decried the incident as a grim wake-up call for students. The alleged assault calls into question the safety of queer Yale students, said Maria Trumpler, special assistant to the deans on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer issues.
“[The incident] is really disturbing to all students,” she said. “This kind of event really throws everyone into a feeling of uncertainty. We’re blessed that we could maintain the illusion of safety for so long.”
Benjamin Gonzalez ’09, coordinator of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Cooperative at Yale, encouraged students to remember that the outside world does not abide by the same level of acceptance as Yale’s community, which is notably gay-friendly.
“In a campus that doesn’t care if you’re gay or not, usually people become lazy and assume that acceptance is given, whereas in the real world, often the best we can hope for is tolerance,” he said.
Like the YPD, administrators at Yale College and the Law School were unaware of the incident.
“I do not have any knowledge of the situation,” Law School spokeswoman Janet Conroy wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.
Conroy then said that if Konnoth did approach the University with information about the incident, the Law School would act as a liason between Konnoth and the police department.
“We would encourage a student to engage the authorities when appropriate,” she said.
After being urged to do so by classmates and a member of OutLaws, the Law School’s LGBT student group, Konnoth sent out an e-mail to the group describing the event.
The incident signals a significant need for increased understanding of LGBT issues within the greater New Haven community, Gonzalez said. To fill this need, the newly formed LGBT group Queer Peers will begin working with local high schools to provide LGBT services, support and education.