California man jailed for 9 months over homophobic pipe bomb threat
A man has been jailed for nine months for making a pipe bomb threat against a gay barista.
56-year-old Joseph O’Sullivan, of Guerneville, California, was handed a nine-month custodial sentence and three years’ probation by Sonoma County Superior Court on Wednesday (April 10), after being found guilty of a hate crime threat against a barista.
The incident occurred in May 2018, while buying a coffee from the Starbucks kiosk inside the Guerneville Safeway grocery store.
Barista was told gay people ‘all need to leave’
O’Sullivan used homophobic slurs and foul language, telling the Starbucks employee that he was building pipe bombs to blow up the barista, his place of employment, and the local sheriff’s office.
He called the barista a “faggot,” telling him that “you [gay people] all need to leave.”
Prosecutors pushed for a custodial sentence because O’Sullivan showed no remorse for his actions.
As reported in the Bay Area Reporter, Assistant District Attorney Brian Morimune said: “He has had the highest degree of refusal to take any accountability for his actions.
“He has painted himself as the victim even after two guilty counts from a jury.”
Victim: My life has been permanently altered by pipe bomb threat
62-year-old barista Hank Myers told Sonoma County judge Peter Ottenweller that he suffered fear, anxiety, nightmares and post-traumatic stress after the incident.
Myers said a victim impact statement: “You have given me anxiety and nightmares, loss of sleep, appetite from your hateful actions and statements.
“The pain caused will always be with me for the rest of my life.”
— Hank Myers
“I have many frequent, sleepless nights where I have been afraid to leave my home in fear of the threats that you have made to our entire community if given the opportunity.
“I feel my life has been permanently altered in a very negative manner.”
He added: “The pain caused will always be with me for the rest of my life.”
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Guerneville, located north of San Francisco, is known for its large LGBT community, hosting the annual Lazy Bear Weekend aimed at members of the gay ‘bear’ subculture.
Three days prior to the bomb threat, O’Sullivan took part in the theft of a pride flag from the Veterans Memorial flagpole in the Guerneville plaza. He faced a separate theft conviction over the stealing of the flag.
In a statement, District Attorney Jill Ravitch said: “In a community known for tolerance of all sorts of people and issues, this conduct was rightly prosecuted and punished.
“The outcome of this case should serve as a strong message to anyone considering the use of hateful speech or conduct.”