Friday, January 10, 2014

Crime & Justice

St. Louis man charged for felony harassment of LGBT 'queer' couple
Jeffery Leveque booking photo via STLPD
Staff Reports | SAINT LOUIS -- A convicted criminal has been charged with a single count of "harassment motivated by discrimination to frighten or disturb another person," a felony, stemming from an incident last month against an LGBT queer couple in St. Louis's Tower Grove East neighborhood. 
Jeffrey Michael Leveque, 45, was accused of accosting Meg Hensley and her transgender male partner Kendan Elliott, over the display of a gay pride rainbow flag that mimics the U.S. stars and stripes from their front porch. According to the couple, Leveque and another man in a pickup truck stopped and blocked the couple's car as they were leaving for work.
A spokesperson for the Metro Umbrella Trans Group Sayer Johnson, who has been working with the couple, told LGBTQ Nation Friday that the couple identifies as themselves as a 'queer' couple since Hensley self identifies as lesbian and Elliot as a trans-male.
Court documents stated that Leveque opened his car door and, from a few feet away, began yelling at the couple using anti-gay slurs. According to a December report from KTVI News in St. Louis, later that same day Hensley discovered someone had posted a photo of their flag with foul, anti-gay comments on the “Rant and Rave” comment section of the St. Louis Craig’s List.
It wasn't just anger there was a lot of name calling and bashing and even threats. It was very scary,’ said Elliott.  Hensley agreed saying, “On their post on Craig’s list it said we make them sick to see us every day. That makes me think they live in my neighborhood.”
After the incident, Hensley detailed the incident and Craig's List posts via the Tower Grove East Neighborhood Facebook page. The following Saturday, Sayer Johnson from the St. Louis Metro Trans Umbrella Group, organized a street demonstration to raise awareness of the issue.
St Louis Police investigated the incident and in the criminal complaint & arrest warrant charging Leveque, STLPD investigator Jerod Breit was quoted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper:  [He] put K.E. "in reasonable apprehension of offensive physical contact or harm" and that Leveque was "knowingly motivated by the sexual orientation" of K.E."
The paper wrote that Leveque is a former St. Louis police officer, who served from November 2001 to April 2004 and that he resigned while under investigation by Internal Affairs for an unspecified allegation.
The paper also noted that he has prior runs-in with the law. Leveque was placed on five years' probation in September after being convicted of receiving stolen property and in 2007 he was placed on probation for third-degree assault.
In the current case, he faces up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Missouri's hate crimes statutes explicitly address both sexual orientation, defined as "male or female heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality by inclination, practice, identity or expression," and gender identity, defined as "having a self-image or identity not traditionally associated with one's gender.