Award-winning TV journalist could face permanent damage to one eye after being attacked for ‘looking like a homosexual’
An Emmy award-winning Minnesota TV journalist may face permanent eye damage after he was attacked because he was “perceived” to be gay.
News anchor Matt Belanger of KSTP-TV in Minnesota was on his way to work on the morning May 12 when he had an object hurled at him by a man on a train platform. The attacker struck because of his “actual or perceived sexual orientation”, police said.
According to NBC News, Vennie Jerome Williams, 39, was charged with third-degree assault and harassment with the intent to injure on May 15.
A complaint was filed by the Hennepin County Attorney’s office, which said that Williams was detained after police viewed CCTV footage which clearly showed him throw an unidentified object at Belanger.
According to the complaint, Williams began ranting inside the police car after he was arrested and “made statements indicating he had assaulted” the TV journalist because “he perceived that victim was homosexual”.
The charges against Williams carry a maximum of five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Minnesota news anchor left wearing an eyepatch after homophobic attack.
Belanger said he hopes to make a full recovery but has been warned he could face permanent damage to his left eye,
He said in a Facebook video, wearing an eyepatch: “The impact to my eye did cause some internal bleeding that does need to heal before I’m going to be able to go back to work.
“I do expect to make a full recovery, but I also need to listen to doctors right now.
“To stay home and to take it easy, frankly, so that my eye can eye can heal to prevent any more damage from happening, and perhaps even damage to my vision long-term.”
He added that he was “deeply grateful” for the outpouring of love and support from viewers across Minnesota, and added: “I miss you all, and I’ll be back very soon.”