An openly gay YouTube star claiming to be the target of a hate crime may have faked his own assault.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department disputed Calum McSwiggan’s claims of assault on Tuesday, saying that the vlogger injured himself in prison after being arrested on suspicion of vandalism.
The self-proclaimed LGBT lifestyle YouTuber wrote on Instagram and Facebook that he was brutally beaten by three men in West Hollywood after visiting gay club The Abbey following VidCon. He claimed he was left with three broken teeth and six stitches in his forehead.
“The authorities should have been there to help and protect me, but instead they treated me like a second-class citizen,” he captioned a photo of himself bandaged in a hospital bed. “I’ve never felt so terrified to be a gay man in the public eye.”
Last night was the worst night of my life and I'm really struggling to find the words to talk about it. After one of the most wonderful weekends at VidCon we went out to a gay club to celebrate, and towards the end of the evening I was separated from my friends and beaten up by three guys. The authorities should have been there to help and protect me but instead they treated me like a second class citizen. With three broken teeth and six stitches in my forehead, I've never felt so terrified to be a gay man in the public eye. All I can do is thank my wonderful YouTube friends for being with me the whole way. I'd be lost without them. Right now I don't feel that I'm in the right place to talk about this but I will be addressing this fully in the future. UPDATE: I've posted a full statement of the night's events on my Facebook page.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that deputies who responded to the scene of the alleged hate crime early Monday morning “were unable to substantiate the assault.”
They said McSwiggan was later arrested around 2:30 a.m. “after deputies observed him vandalizing a car.” He “had no visible injuries” when he was booked for vandalism (for property damage greater than $400).
“Mr. McSwiggan’s booking photo was taken prior to deputies seeing Mr. McSwiggan injuring himself,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. The photo shows no visible injuries.
The 26-year-old “was then observed injuring himself with the handle and receiver to a payphone” alone inside his jail cell at the West Hollywood Station. He was taken to the hospital for treatment, sheriff’s officials said in a statement, and eventually released on $20,000 bail.
Riyadh Khalif, a fellow YouTuber who attended the club with McSwiggan, but didn’t witness the attack, tweeted that the attackers “knew where we were going to be because of our posts on social media before we went out and even said our names as they beat him.”
“I’ve been told to say nothing before court tomorrow, but staying silent here is killing us. If you’re a friend, just DM me for the truth,” McSwiggan tweeted on Tuesday. He’s scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday morning.