Update: After arrests, differing accounts of alleged Mall assault surface

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Richard Bernard Spears, left, and Malcolm James Stevenson have been charged with misdemeanor assault. Photo: Charlottesville Police Department Richard Bernard Spears, left, and Malcolm James Stevenson have been charged with misdemeanor assault. Photo: Charlottesville Police Department

Charlottesville Police have arrested two men in association with the December 20 assault on the Downtown Mall, and, following the arrests, different accounts of the night have emerged.

Malcolm James Stevenson, 25, and Richard Bernard Spears, 23, surrendered on Wednesday, January 8, according to Police Chief Tim Longo, who announced the arrests at a same-day press conference. Each has been charged with misdemeanor assault.

According to Longo, statements by the accused assailants, the victims, Marc Adams and Jeanne Doucette, and several independent witnesses led police to conclude the assault began as Doucette has previously described, while she and Adams walked east on the Mall from Miller’s toward Rapture at around 1:40am on Friday, December 20.

After Adams fell, Stevenson and Spears, who were standing nearby, “mocked and made fun of him,” said Longo, who described an independent witness’ account of what happened next.

Adams asked the men what they’d said, Longo reported, and “Malcolm Stevenson lifted him up and threw him to the ground.” According to Longo, it was Spears who punched Doucette in the head when she came to Adams’ aid.

There is no evidence that the assault was racially motivated, said Longo, who further noted that no one interviewed during the investigation claimed that either Adams or Doucette made racist or homophobic statements to their assailants.

The assailants, however, have since said otherwise. In an interview with blogger Dave McNair posted on Charlottesvilledtm.com on Sunday, January 12, the pair alleged that after they’d mocked Adams for being intoxicated, Doucette launched a racial and homophobic slur at them before physically striking Spears and threatening to use the media to create trouble for them because of their race.

Stevenson and Spears, who are both gay, insisted they’d been trying to avoid a physical confrontation with Adams, who’d become belligerent. They said it was actually a third man, who Longo said has been interviewed and cleared by police, who delivered a blow to Adams’ face that caused him injury. Spears and Stevenson said that man was unknown to them.

Furthermore, Stevenson and Spears deny they laughed, hugged, or high-fived during the incident, as Doucette has claimed. A photo provided by Doucette appears to show one of the alleged assailants with his arms around another person.

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One of the photos Jeanne Doucette says she took during the alleged assault. Photo: Jeanne Doucette

While the Emergency Communications Center told C-VILLE only a single 911 call was placed during the incident, Longo said there were two 911 calls placed, both by parties who refused to give their names but described an unconscious man. Adams, Longo noted, refused to give any statements that night or to have his injuries documented. While Doucette provided an initial report, Adams did not call to add his account to the police report until the next day, Saturday, December 21.

In his press conference last week, Longo also addressed concerns that the department was slow to respond to the report. He said that an investigation did commence immediately and that the patrol officers who’d taken the report had been following up, but acknowledged that the case should have been assigned to a detective earlier. He first saw the file and assigned it to the investigative unit, he said, when he returned to work after the holidays on December 30.

That delay did two things, he said. “One, it created the perception that the department didn’t take the matter seriously, and two, it gave the impression that nothing was being done,” Longo said.

He said a new policy instituted in the wake of the incident requires multiple captains and the investigations commander to review every new report placed in the system daily “to make sure it was assigned properly.”

Stevenson and Spears have been released on their own recognizance and are scheduled to appear in Charlottesville District Court on February 5. Longo said the current misdemeanor charges could be raised to something more serious if Adams provides additional documentation of his injuries. Currently, Longo said, police only have documentation of a lost tooth and soft tissue damage. Adams has provided photos of his injuries and said he has signed paperwork releasing all of his medical records to investigators.

After the story went viral via national aggregators The Drudge Report and Gawker, and the day after publication of McNair’s interview with Stevenson and Spears, whom C-VILLE could not reach for comment, Adams and Doucette issued a statement defending themselves, and decrying what they describe as “slander.”

“We love everyone and did not make the vile comments our attackers and some media are publicizing,” they wrote.

Reached by email after the interview with Spears and Stevenson, Charlottesville Police Lieutenant Ronnie Robertson declined to comment on the discrepancy between accounts.

“Both [sides] will have an opportunity to testify in court about the events that transpired on the morning of December 20,” he said.

(Watch Chief Longo’s full press conference here.)

 

 

  • Bill Bevins

    C-Ville, welcome to the Stuart style of journalism, there is only one side of every story, and its the one she hears first.

    • Kate Miller

      I came to C-Ville hoping to see some sort of retraction or modifications to the earlier story but instead found this…because it’s totally unbelievable that some drunk dude, who admittedly remembers nothing of the incident, might have said something offensive to provoke the attack. This wouldn’t justify the assault but it also wouldn’t warrant the couple’s decision to go to overzealous news outlets to spread this knockout propaganda. Ugh.

      • gunnut

        So what you are saying is that they should have just dealt with their injuries and let it go? They went to the media only because after a week the police had done nothing.

        • Kate Miller

          Nope – I’m saying they shouldn’t have gone to the media peddling a sensationalized knockout story when they likely got in a drunken argument that turned to blows. As more details have emerged from the CPD, it sounds like they greatly exaggerated injuries (hence the misdemeanor assault charges) and their blamelessness in the situation.

          • Cville Resident

            There is physical evidence that Marc and Jeanne were physically attacked. Stevenson and Spears were completely unharmed. Despite this Kate Miller writes: “… drunken argument that turned to blows … they [Jeanne and Marc] greatly exaggerated [their] injuries … and their blamelessness …”

            Following the attack Marc released his hospital records to the police and courts. How do you exaggerate X-rays of fractures? How can anyone suggest he is faking the crutches the hospital provided him?

            The police reported Jeanne’s injuries as existing, they didn’t just say “she said …”

            What did Marc and Jeanne do to deserve their injuries? They were out late at night? They responded to less than copacetic looking strangers?

            Suppose, contrary to Jeanne’s testimony, that Jeanne or Marc insulted Stevenson and Spears. Is what was done to Marc a civilized response? Do you want to discourage such people who one day might misconstrue what you say and do the same to you?

          • Kate Miller

            You seem to be missing the point. I never said they weren’t injured – it appears that Doucette exaggerated their injuries.

            From the Daily Progress: “The man suffered a broken tooth and what Longo described as soft-tissue injuries. Reports that the he’d also suffered cracked ribs and a fractured ankle have not been confirmed, Longo said…Longo said the misdemeanor charge was filed because there was no indication the men intended to cause serious harm.” Almost identical report in the Times Dispatch.

            Again, going back to why I and others seem to be uspet – C-Ville continues to present heresy instead of sticking to verified facts, and Doucette seems to have irresponsibly misrepresented what happened that night in various public forums. No one is trying to justify violence or say that Stevens and Spears shouldn’t be charged but instead demand some accountability on all parts.

          • Cville Resident

            How do you know that Jeanne Doucette exaggerated her and Marc Adam’s injuries? Why call her a liar?

            You call her account hearsay. Jeanne’s account is not hearsay. She was there.

            Marc released his hospital record to the police and courts, I gather after Longo’s press conference. It’s unlikely he would do that if they didn’t corroborate his account. You will see yea or nay.

            “Demand some accountability on all parts” insinuates that Marc and Jeanne are as guilty as Stevenson and Spears. That seems to be the fix in this affair. They’re all guilty, just forget about it.

    • Cville Resident

      Marc Adams’ injuries alone show that he was assaulted, and if it weren’t
      for Courtney Stuart and the C-ville Weekly we wouldn’t know about it.

      Marc Adams (age 39) suffered concussions, multiple fractures, over a thousand dollars dental work, and what the police call “soft tissue damage.” Jeanne Doucette (age 39) suffered bruises to the head and torn ear cartilage.

      Malcolm Stevenson (age 25) and Richard Spears (age 23) suffered … nothing.

      A glib tongue and self-righteous denial does not make medical evidence, photographs, and eyewitnesses disappear. Suppose, as seems to be the case, Stevenson and Spears sincerely believe they are innocent of wrong-doing. The men’s idea of wrong-doing might not include smacking women in the head, or kicking and punching a man to unconsciousness because they heard an insult.

      In the second interview (WVIR January 14) we hear about Stevenson’s and Spear’s “emotional scars,” nothing about Adams’ and Doucette’s physical wounds.

  • RandomThoughts

    I had a dream …………. I was just a rambling in it .. it went something like this .

    I would suggest these two thugs look for better council before making public statements that just pictures alone make these idiots look guilty . I wonder if the “friends” helped concoct the story to throw both the race card and gay card in .

    Al Sharpton would be proud LMAO

    “The interview was facilitated by Kiara Redd-Martin and Kishara Joy Griffin, two young African-American activists (and friends of the men) who say they feel “disappointed and angry” about the way the story was initially portrayed in the press, and encouraged their friends to come forward.”

    I wonder why these two thugs didn’t get their story to the police a little sooner , like right when the incident happened and the police showed up AND before it made national news and they were identified through facebook and social networks,the PO PO was on their way after these thugs if they didn’t turn themselves in .

    I cannot wait to see the protest against the writer of the original story , please be sure to advertise it girls so I can be sure to be there ( I am sure it wont have a lead time ), these type of people like to attack in packs with no warning so there is not an opposing opinion around.

    Then I will later watch you get your asses handed to you by a writer armed with her pen , a couple pictures , witnesses and I feel somebody is going after “two” 911 calls .

    Yea that was a strange dream , I was just a rambling in it .

    • Bill Bevins

      The plaintiffs shouldn’t be blogging right now.

      • RandomThoughts

        I am all for freedom of speech .

        The plaintiffs are blogging ? Care to share where with the rest of us ?

  • RandomThoughts

    I also noticed the CPD is NOW interested in investigating a violent stabbing of a Man who came to the aid of a female in distress last SUMMER . CPD Going so far to NOW release pictures and offer a 2,000 reward , though the CPD and or local news seem to be forgetting a huge detail in catching a perpetrator of a violent crime . leaving out the description of the attacker(s) . But don’t forget , the CPD is looking for all they help they can get .. wink wink .

    This attack is NOW being investigated after I hear the victim is looking for a NATIONAL news source to tell his story .

    The investigation that needs to be had is the CPD .

  • Bill Dixon

    The continued reporting on this story is pitiful.

  • Bruno Hob

    “the pair alleged that after they’d mocked Adams for being
    intoxicated, Doucette launched a racial and homophobic slur at them
    before physically striking Spears and threatening to use the media to
    create trouble for them because of their race.”
    This is possible (note, they have no prob mocking a drunk guy but don’t– see rest of story- want any confrontation and the woman, Doucette, starts the physical assault).
    It is also possible I am the King of Siam. Take it to court.

  • Wha? Chinango

    Courtney I think your next article is going to be “The View from Under the Bus.” After seeing the Channel 29 interview with these articulate and thoughtful young men I’m outraged at the original presentation of the story (and my own snap judgements resulting therefrom).

    Maybe Cville *is* best used for “Victorian Doily Shop Opens” articles.

  • S.S.

    Guys, this is the C-Ville.. I don’t expect journalistic integrity to be shining through here, you shouldn’t either. Plus, it’s more fun to write about sensational things – look for other outlets to give perspective, not this one.

  • Cville Resident

    The DTM article of January 12 gives no employment for Stevenson. Spears attends the Virginia School of Massage, no gainful employment given. Spears says that as Jeanne and Marc walked past, he and Stevenson laughed at them and made a disparaging remark. Jeanne then called him a [slur] and “charged” at him. Stevenson says it was a third man who attacked Marc. He says Marc “got in my face” and that he only “pushed him away.”

    In other words, Jeanne attacked them, Stevenson and Spears were only defending themselves. They managed to escape from the woman without injury!

    The two men make much of the fact that they turned themselves in “voluntarily.” They don’t mention their delay in doing it, or say what affect the photographs had on their decision. And if they were so innocent, why they fled the scene in the first place.

    Does it sound reasonable that Jeanne and her boyfriend walking from one place to another, passing complete strangers each taller and heavier than either of them (Marc is 5 feet 5, 130-5 pounds), would attack them physically except to resist in self defense ?

    As for the name-calling, isn’t it more reasonable to suspect that Spears either imagined it at the time or made it up later? His account sounds like a black and/or homosexual advocacy script.

    Also from the DTM interview, Spears says that Doucette told him that he and Stevenson were going to be portrayed as thugs in the press because she and Marc are white. Is it credible that Jeanne would deliver such a lecture while being attacked ?

    Let’s assume for the sake of argument that she had called Spears a name. Sticks and stones as children say. Words, imagined or otherwise, are not the same as a punch in your head. How does name-calling begin to justify the savage response to which Marc’s injures attest ?

    Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Marc is a drunken reprobate. How on earth does that justify beating him to death ?

    • Ed Zavada

      “Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Marc Adams is a drunken reprobate. How on earth would that justify beating him to death?”

      Marc is still alive.

      • Cville Resident

        “Would” not “does”. Marc might have been killed were it not for the bravery of Jeanne.

        His attackers didn’t stop until after they saw she started taking pictures and other people were calling on their cell phones. At that point Marc had been beaten unconscious on the pavement, with fractured ribs, ankle, knocked out tooth.

        How much injury does it take for our police to see it as a felony?

        • Ed Zavada

          Re-read what you wrote. Someone reading it would be left with the impression that Marc was beaten to dead.

          If you have first hand information about what actually took place, I highly encourage you to go to the police with that information if you haven’t already.

        • Cville Resident

          As pointed out by Ed Zavada, I got carried away by my rhetoric. I meant to say that the perps apparently didn’t care whether they beat Marc Adams to death or not. According to Jeanne Doucette’s account, they stopped only when they saw the potential of police punishment. (The inventors of the cell phone and digital camera made us a little safer.)

  • Bradley Mead

    So the lesson here is, if you want justice here in Cville, make sure you go to the social media to force local law to do their job? Its been a known and an accepted practice here that crime doesn’t exist here. No drugs, no prostitution, no gangs, a regular valhala. Image is everything regardless the black eyes suffered by the public. Image is everythin, right mayor?

  • Abdicat

    Can we expect to see Doucette’s and Adams’ faces on Feb 5th?

  • readerreader

    I appreciate this measured and reasonable reporting, nearly a month after the fact, but when are you and your editor going to apologize for linking the DTM attack to the so-called Knockout Game in the first place? If you had not run a story inflammatorily entitled “Knock Out,” I doubt David McNair would have come back with “No Knock Out,” an arguably even more irresponsible and insipid story implying the attack was a response to homophobic hate speech. Both “sides” in this coverage have behaved ridiculously, and only the Daily Progress managed to stay above the fray.

    Your incendiary reporting is largely responsible for this story getting picked up and circulated by vile racists. So next time: report the facts. Talk to experts. Have some journalistic standards, and some patience–you’re not going to get the whole story right away, but that’s no reason to print complete speculation. And for heaven’s sake, don’t go suggesting that a (racist) urban legend like the Knockout Game is real, and occurred in this case, without a single shred of evidence. Jeanne Doucette could have made that accusation all on her own without sullying the good name of your paper.

    • Cville Resident

      Jeanne Doucette conjectured that the assault might have been the “knockout game,” and Courteney Stuart reported her conjecture.

      If the attack wasn’t the “knockout game” it was its second cousin. What possible excuse could there have been for smacking Jeanne in the head or beating Marc unconscious? In their account Stevenson and Spears ignore Marc’s and Jeanne’s injuries. Ignore as in pretend don’t exist, let’s not talk about it, we just want to go forward with our lives – while Marc goes forward on crutches. Given that dishonesty, why trust the rest of their account?

      Stevenson and Spears fled the event, obviously in fear of the police, and didn’t come forward until 19 days later. Some of their statements sound like from a political playbook, a black and/or homosexual advocacy script.

      Courteney Stuart deserves our thanks for real investigative reporting. Were it not for her the Daily Progress wouldn’t even know about the attack. If hers is “incendiary reporting” we need more of it.

      • readerreader

        It was stupid of Courteney Stuart to report that conjecture without flagging it as conjecture and providing balance. That’s what I’m saying. This Knock Out Game idea is LOADED–there’s no reason to invoke it until someone actually 1) proves it exists and 2) proves it was happening here. Otherwise, this paper just looks like a tabloid.

        As to the rest of what you are saying, yes. I believe that Marc Adams suffered serious injury, which I believe will be revealed when the records are released; I also believe that he and Doucette did little to nothing to provoke the attack.

  • ginjaninjaavenja

    I’m a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, but I don’t care if these people made any racial or homophobic slurs…it does NOT give anyone the right to physically assault them. I’m sure the people on both sides of this have their positive and negative attributes, and both groups probably acted like asses that night. However, that kind of beating could kill someone, or maim them for life. What they did was attempted murder, plain and simple. It was needless violence and they should be punished. End of story.

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