Investigators don't believe Duluth man told truth about alleged anti-gay mob beating

Categories: Crime, GLBT
proctor gay rally.jpg
A pro-gay rally was held in Proctor on May 28 after Pelofske made his controversial hate-crime allegation.
Seven young adults are charged with crimes in connection with a drunken brawl at a Duluth-area gravel pit on May 26, but none have been charged with an anti-gay hate crime.

Max Pelofske, a 21-year-old gay Duluth man, alleged he was brutally beaten at a graduation party in an abandoned gravel pit by a mob that took issue with his sexuality. But following an investigation, both the St. Louis County Sheriff and St. Louis County Attorney concluded that Pelofske didn't tell the truth.

"It was a very thorough, complete investigation," sheriff Ross Litman said. "The facts did not support anyone being charged with a bias crime... and our recommendation was confirmed by the county attorney's office."

In the days following the party, Pelofske said he had just arrived at the party, held in an abandoned gravel pit in New Independence Township, when a young man approached him, asked him to look him in the eyes, and asked -- 'Are you gay?" Pelofske says he confirmed that he is, asked the young man 'Is that ok?,' then was beaten by a group of at least nine men.

While Pelofske's account was seconded by at least one fellow partier, other revelers took issue with the hate-crime allegation from the beginning. Following interviews with about two dozen witnesses, investigators believe Pelofske helped instigate a melee by throwing a beer can at someone and kicking people as the massive brawl gained steam. For his role in the fight, Pelofske actually ended up being charged with fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct.

Said St. Louis County Attorney Nathaniel Stumme: "What was kind of critical in my analysis is that the people in the best position to hear and witness what happened ... did not corroborate what Mr. Pelofske was initially reporting."

"These are people we would presume to be his friends, who would be at least neutral if not supporting him. They were not supporting his allegations," he added.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, the scene at the gravel pit that night was one of booze-fueled chaos:
beer cooler.jpg
Partiers may have hated on Pelofske because he stole beer, but not because he's gay, investigators say.
Allegations were made that Pelofske or someone was stealing alcohol out of a cooler. People were getting in people's faces. Some admitted to having their memory clouded by alcohol consumption. Two young men were bumping chests. One young woman was heard threatening that she was going to beat up another young woman. Underage drinkers were in a gravel pit with the clock approaching midnight.
Most of the young adults involved are facing fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct charges. One 18-year-old faces felony charges for drunkenly fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle.

Previous coverage:
-- Controversy surrounds alleged anti-gay Saturday night mob beating near Duluth

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