At a preliminary hearing in December, Cal State Fullerton student Gaston Alejandro Gastelum disputed his 2006 summer arrest for ruthlessly assaulting two young women he incorrectly thought were a lesbian couple. Gastelum's defense was that the tiny women, ages 20 and 22, had attacked him without reason. His defense lawyer demanded to know why police had't arrested the women.
But Gastelum, who likes to call himself "Party Boy Gaston" on his MySpace homepage, has finally ended the games, apologized to his victims, pleaded guilty to two felony hate crime counts, and surrendered himself today in Superior Court Judge Gregg L. Prickett's Fullerton court.
In court—and with both victims present—the 22-year-old Delta Chi frat boy said he was "ashamed" of his conduct during the July 2006 early-morning beatings near the college campus. Police say an intoxicated Gastelum saw two women walking together and yelled, "You look like boys. You must be lesbians! Bitches! Fucking dykes!" as he pummeled them with punches to their faces, necks and chests. He fled the scene, but police later found him. The victims suffered bruises, cuts and mental anguish, according to prosecutor Scott Steiner, head of the district attorney's hate-crimes unit.
Gastelum will spend the next 30 days locked in the Orange County Jail. Afterward, he will perform 30 days' of highway trash pickup for Caltrans, as well as enroll in anger-management and alcohol-abuse classes. A county probation officer will monitor his behavior for three years.
If he'd been convicted after a trial, he faced as much as a three-year sentence in a California prison.
Steiner said both he and the victims are satisfied with the resolution.
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"He seemed quite sincere in his apology," said Steiner. "Hopefully, this case helps send a message that we will not tolerate hate crimes in Orange County."
Following the Weekly's report on the crime last September, outraged female CSUF students protested that their university hadn't taken action against Gastelum.
It is a felony in California to assault someone based on their perceived sexual orientation.