La Crosse man charged with substantial battery after fracas in Copeland Park
40-year-old man allegedly called pair 'faggots' and 'queers'
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — A 40-year-old La Crosse man was charged with substantial battery, disorderly conduct and felony bail jumping after he allegedly accosted two people at Copeland Park, accused them of sexual activity and hit and kicked one in the face, according to a criminal complaint.
Travis D. Crawford, who was charged in La Crosse County Circuit Court Wednesday, allegedly approached the two in an area closed off by trees at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. He accused them of engaging in intercourse, but they told him they were just tickling each other, according to the complaint.
The victim who was struck and kicked is a transgender boy, according to the complaint, which says he called police about the altercation.
The victim’s companion, a transgender girl, told police she and her boyfriend were “messing around,” tickling, but not having sex, according to the report.
A man later identified as Crawford allegedly approached them and leveled accusations of sexual activity. He also accused them of stealing his bike and called the pair “faggots.”
The male told police he stood up to protect his girlfriend and told the man to go away. The man allegedly told him he “had steel-toed boots” and asked the youth if he would “like to feel them.”
When the youth told him to get away, the man allegedly punched and kicked him in the face.
The female told him planned to call the police, to which the man replied, “Go ahead” as he walked away.
The youth called police, waited until officers arrived and told them he wanted to press charges. He was taken to Gundersen Health System for evaluation of his injuries, which included a bloody nose and a laceration on the bridge of his nose that required stitches. He also had at least one chipped tooth and a scratch on his right cheek.
When police interviewed Crawford, he allegedly referred to the pair as “queer.”
La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke said his office has considered charging Crawford with a hate crime, but the statute as written does not apply to crimes against transgender people.
“We did evaluate that and we are still considering it, but the statute only applies to ‘sexual orientation’ which isn’t the same as transgender or non-binary. The statute hasn’t caught up with society yet,” Gruenke said.
The statute applies against those who commit crimes in whole or in part due to the defendant’s “belief or perception regarding the race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry of that person.”
“You can see the statute doesn’t apply to gender, political party, or transgender (people). ‘Sexual orientation’ we believe would not include the persons involved in this case. We think it should, but isn’t an option under the statute,” Gruenke said.
If convicted, Crawford faces the following:
For count 1, substantial battery, a Class I felony, a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisoned for not more than three years and six months, or both.
For count 2, felony bail jumping, intentionally failing to comply with the terms of a bond to commit no new crimes, a Class H felony, a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisoned for not more than six years, or both.
Read the complaint here: Criminal Complaint – County_1 – Crawford, Travis D; 2021CF000554; Crawford, Travis D_2522918_1
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