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Gay student claims hate attack in beating at Illinois State University

Updated: April 23, 2012 10:31AM

(NORMAL, Ill) A gay Illinois State University student is recovering from injuries he said he suffered during a hate-inspired beatdown Saturday morning near campus.

Normal Police said the apparent attack is under investigation but could not confirm it was a hate crime.

Eric Unger said he had just left a party and was walking home alone about 2:30 a.m. in the 100 block of West Willow Street when a group of men passed him from behind — and one of them knocked his phone out of his hand.

The 23-year-old from north suburban Deerfield, who is openly gay, said he asked the group, allegedly comprised of five to eight African-American males, “what their problem was.”

Unger said they responded with anti-gay slurs and surrounded him. He said he pleaded that he “just wanted to go home,” but the men attacked him, still hurling anti-gay epithets.

“I don’t know why people like that go out to do that to people, to single someone out and attack them for no reason,” said the student, who called police after the alleged attack and was taken in an ambulance to Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal.

He said he suffered scrapes and bruises around his face, broken teeth, and a fractured jaw. After being treated and released from the hospital, he drove home to Deerfield and saw a dentist Saturday, the student and his father Stu said.

Normal Police Sgt. Adam Kapchinske confirmed responding officers found Unger, a family relations major, injured, after an apparent beating. No one witnessed the attack, and the student did not mention his belief the attack was a hate crime in a police report, Kapchinske said, adding that an investigation is ongoing.

Unger said he was “frazzled” after the attack and might not have provided enough details to police.

Fights on and around the ISU campus are common on the weekends when many students are partying and consuming alcohol — but one person being beat by such a large group is “rare,” Kapchinske said. But that isn’t enough to indicate the beating was a hate crime, Kapchinske said.

“There’s no evidence one way or another, and you hate to speculate,” Kapchinske said, adding that Unger could not provide a description of his attackers other than that they were black males of various sizes and body types. No one was in custody.

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