MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The teen who was beaten and stripped in a brutal attack that authorities say was motivated by his sexual orientation has a message for people who may be afraid to show their true selves.
“It’s very disturbing that people really hate someone based on their preference. For all those who are not sure who they are, be who you are and be proud of who you are,” he said, speaking only with 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday.
Video of the Saturday evening assault posted to Facebook shows it was terrifying, humiliating and painful. In the video, the attacker screamed, punched and kicked the 17-year-old as others filmed and snickered.
The victim, who 24 Hour News 8 is not identifying for his protection, said 18-year-old Trevon Godbolt lured him to Edgewood Elementary in Muskegon Heights Saturday night under the false pretense of hanging out and then attacked him.
24 Hour News 8 asked the 17-year-old what was going through his mind during the beating.
“There’s nothing around for me to defend myself and I’m here by myself,” the teen remembered.
He said he was scared the assailant may try to kill him if he tried to fight back.
The teen walked away from the incident without his phone or clothes, but also without serious injury. He said he was checked out at the hospital and discharged within a few hours.
The attacker can be heard in the video calling the victim gay and using expletives, leading authorities to say the 17-year-old was targeted because of his sexuality. The 17-year-old said there’s more to the story.
“He (Godbolt) came to my house to hang out and wanted to do more than just hang out and when I told him no, he was planning on leaving but before he could leave, my dad found him in my closet,” he said.
The 17-year-old says his dad kicked Godbolt out of the house. That incident happened a couple of years ago, but the teen believes the Saturday attack was retaliation.
The 17-year-old isn’t giving the attacker or anyone who watched the video any gratification. He said he’s still proud and staying true to himself. The teen, who identifies as bisexual, said he’s not going to be bullied.
“At this point, I have the right to defend myself,” he said.
Prosecutors say they also considered filing a felony charge of ethnic intimidation against Godbolt, but determined they couldn’t because current guidelines do not include crimes based on sexual orientation.