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In a classic case of he said / cops said, gay YouTube star and LGBT advocate Calum McSwiggan was charged with multiple crimes on a night he alleges he was assaulted outside a gay club in West Hollywood, California. Depending on whose version of events you believe, McSwiggan was either beaten by three men outside The Abbey or he vandalized a car, injured himself in a jail cell, and filed a false police report.
Here are both sides to a bizarre story:
The Sheriff's Department
The L.A. County Sheriff's Department announced they placed McSwiggan under arrest around 2:30 a.m. Monday morning. According to law enforcement, he was suspected of vandalizing a car parked along Santa Monica Boulevard near Robertson Boulevard. Booking records confirm that McSwiggan was charged with vandalism with property damage greater than $400.
Deputies contend they could not confirm McSwiggan's story of assault and that he had no visible injuries when he was spoke with officers. The Sheriff's Department also released a booking photo of McSwiggan in which he appears to have no injuries to his face. Further, once McSwiggan was placed in a cell, he "was then observed injuring himself with the handle and receiver to a payphone." Ultimately, McSwiggan was also charged with filing a false police report.
The Star's Drama
For his part, McSwiggan released his own photo via his Instagram account, depicting his alleged injuries while lying in a hospital bed. It was his first public statement on the incident, in which he asserted that he'd "never felt so terrified to be a gay man in the public eye," and claimed the "authorities should have been there to help and protect me but instead they treated me like a second class citizen." McSwiggan said he needed six stitches to his head and had three broken teeth.
In a later Facebook post, McSwiggan admitted to vandalizing the car and injuring himself:
In a moment of devastation, anger and blind rage I kicked the wing mirror of the attacker's car until it broke and then ripped it off with my hands. I also scratched the front of the car with the broken wing mirror before returning back to The Abbey for help ... In a moment of desperation to get out of the cell, I took the pay phone off the wall and hit myself once across the forehead with it as hard as I could. I knew I had to injure myself to get out of the cell and into a hospital, and it was the only solution I could find to get myself out of there.
McSwiggan maintains he was punched in the mouth and kicked by three men ("To reiterate, I did not fake this attack and am absolutely appalled that anyone would suggest or think that I did"), and pleaded not guilty to the charge of false reporting.
Sorting the truth from these two competing narratives may not be easy, and may be up to the courts or a jury.