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Mass. Trial for Gay Bashing, Suicide Begins

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Thursday Apr 5, 2012
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The Salem Superior Court will hear a case about an openly gay man who committed suicide after he was beaten and verbally assaulted outside a bar in 2009, the Salem News reported.

Salem, which is known for its historical sites, New Age and Wiccan shops and Halloween themed attractions, is about 18 miles northeast of Boston.

Lawyers argue that Justin Goodwin, 37, took his own life last year because of the brutal incident. A judge will soon decide, however, if there is enough evidence from the case to present to a jury who will hear the civil lawsuit.

Goodwin was attacked in April 2009 outside of a bar in Gloucester, MA., -- a city 16 miles northeast of Salem. His attackers allegedly beat and kicked him until he was knocked unconscious and suffered a broken jaw, cheekbone and eye sockets. After the beating, Goodwin had to undergo several hours of surgery to "reassemble his face." His lawyers believe his attackers beat him because he was gay.

Soon after the incident, Goodwin filed a civil lawsuit against the bar’s owners and his attackers. The bar, the Old Timer’s Tavern, lost its license for 30 days and then later closed down, the newspaper points out.

But Goodwin was found dead in his Salem apartment in March 2011. He died from a lethal dose of prescription drugs and authorities found journals that he created during his recovery. Lawyers for Goodwin’s family will attempt to add a wrongful death count to the suit.

Judge David Lowly will hear arguments on whether the jury should consider a wrongful death claim.

In 2004 Massachusetts became one of the first states to recognize marriage equality. The state has also been progressive when it comes to hate crime laws as it added sexual orientation to the laws in 1983. Additionally, in 1989, Massachusetts added sexual orientation to its non-discrimination laws.

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