CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Three children from the same family are in juvenile custody after allegedly attacking a Missouri woman, and the victim believes she was targeted because she is gay.
The Southeast Missourian reports that Jeana Terry, 41, and her partner Lisa Lange were inside their home July 24 when a 16-year-old girl who lives nearby allegedly began shouting anti-gay slurs. The girl then allegedly gathered her 13-year-old sister and 11-year-old brother, went to Terry's porch and pulled her outside when she came to the door, according to authorities.
"Once I was down, it was pure chaos," Terry said, describing being repeatedly kicked and hit.
Lange called 911, then ran out to help free Terry from the fight.
"They were kicking, stomping and beating the hell out of her," neighbor Mima Poole said.
Terry said she may need eye surgery and still suffers from bruising, nausea and dizziness.
The children's mother told the newspaper that Terry and Lange started the fight.
"My oldest daughter was outside on her phone with a friend, and they (Terry and Lange) heard her say something about `gay,"' the mother said, "then they started yelling at her."
The Associated Press is not identifying the mother so as not to identify the children, who remain in juvenile custody.
The mother said her daughter then went to her aunt's house and told her younger brother about the incident. The two siblings returned together to the street in front of the house. She said the couple came outside and began arguing with the children.
The two younger children pleaded guilty to trespassing and second-degree assault at a juvenile hearing and will be released from custody soon, the mother said.
The 16-year-old could face assault and burglary charges, and perhaps be charged with a hate crime charge. It hasn't been determined if she will be tried as an adult. Cape Girardeau County prosecutor Morley Swingle did respond to interview requests.
Terry and Lange said that perhaps they shouldn't have responded verbally to the taunts, but they felt enough was enough.
"Before now we'd always just bite our tongue, but you can't just brush it off forever. You can only take it for so long," Terry said.