A Seal Beach man is today facing hate crime charges in the assault on a gay couple in a beach parking lot early last month.
Wade James Rutledge was charged Tuesday with felony assault/hate crime causing violet injury and dissuading a witness by force or threat with a hate crime sentencing enhancement that, with a conviction, could send the 27-year-old to state prison for seven years, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office.
He and others with him allegedly approached a man and his boyfriend in the parking lot near 10th Street and Ocean Avenue in Seal Beach around 7 p.m. Nov. 3 and hurled homophobic insults at them and threatened them with violence, the OCDA says.
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When the first victim tried to call the cops, Rutledge allegedly grabbed his arm, forcing the cell phone out of the caller's hand and disconnecting the call, say prosecutors, who add that after returning to his group of friends with the phone, the defendant walked back to return it to the caller but warned him against calling the police again.
As the boyfriends got into a car to leave the area, Rutledge is accused of shoving the second man into the passenger seat, slamming the car door on the victim's arm and yelling at them to hurry up and drive off, the OCDA says.
A subsequent Seal Beach Police Department investigation led to Rutledge's arrest on Sunday. He is next due in court Dec. 14 in Westminster for a pre-trial hearing.
However, the investigation is ongoing, and anyone with additional information is asked to contact SBPD Detective Jeff Gibson at 562.799.4100 ext. 1109.