Back on October 2009, President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law.
The legislation was written in part because of the 1998 murder of Matthew Sheppard, a victim of a vicious hate crime. Sheppard was only 21-years-old when he was brutally tortured and killed by two men because he was gay.
Unfortunately, after the more than 10 years that same hate continues to captivate the national spotlight, including here in the Rio Grande Valley.
Valley Hate Crime
A Weslaco man, who doesn't want to be identified, but spoke to Action 4 News because unlike, Sheppard he was lucky enough to live to tell about it.
Some people think that it can never happen to you because I never thought it would happen to me, he said.
The man said he never thought he would fall victim to a phone chat line that offered conversation with local people for free.
The 42-year old Weslaco man said he called the chat line several times but the conversations never went beyond the phone.
That was until one late night in October of 2010 when he decided to give out his phone number.
I received a call from this person and said you know what I TMm tired I TMm sleepy and this and that, said the Weslaco man. I told him you know what you that I TMm a gay person|he said I don't care."
The Weslaco man said at first he refused the invitation but said the caller was persistent and finally gave in.
The 42-year-old went to meet a complete stranger outside of Mission.
According to the Hidalgo County Sheriff TMs Office, the home was located north of 3 Mile Line by Bentson Palm Drive and J.A. Street.
Within seconds of arriving, he said he was violently beaten, dragged and pistol whipped.
He said it was then he realized the stranger was far from wanting a friendship instead he wanted to kill him.
He threw me in the bed like that...He locked the door...and what are you going to do with that, he said. He said I TMm going to kill you...I'm going to get rid of you...I don't like people like you.
He says the attacker then raped him and forced him to perform sexual acts.
I call it rape...because he did something without my consent and I didn't want to do it...but I did it because I didn't want to get killed."
Bruised and bloody, the Weslaco man said he was also robbed from his wallet and cell phone.
The Weslaco man said he was then dragged outside and made to sit inside his own vehicle as a gun was pointed at him.
That's when I was thinking and praying ok this is it...I mean is it going to hurt or what am I going to feel you know but I couldn't do anything I was just going to die there."
He said then suddenly a second man appeared and approached the vehicle demanding something he thought he'd never hear.
Ok he said let him go...let him go...and he pointed the gun at me, he recalled.
He said he took that opportunity to push on the gas pedal and take off.
Hysterical he said he reached a convenience store and called 9-1-1.
The man filled a report with the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators called the whole incident an aggravated robbery and said it TMs still an open investigation.
The Weslaco man said he is humiliated and embarrassed, but glad to share his story that could hopefully save others.
Psychology of Hate
Authorities are now trying to find those responsible something Dr. Susan Ander, a pschsycotherapist in Harlingen said it could be the hardest thing to do.
There are tremendous perpetrators of hate crimes that are doctors... lawyers... ministers it's prevalent at all ranks and levels of society," Dr. Ander said.
She said perpetrators reason TMs even harder to unravel.
There are probably as many motives as there are people what causes one person to pull the trigger and the other one not to it goes way way back to the conditioning."
Conditioning that Dr. Ander said molds potential perpetrators at a young age.
Number one they are taught to hate, Ander said. That's the most important thing...oh there are this group or they belong to that religion or that's no good ...and you hear that enough and actually you believe your parents...there are generally the first people you learn to trust so why would your parents tell you a lie."
In the end, Dr. Ander said the only way to prevent these hate crimes is to start at home.
Not to minimize the child who says the "N-word or talks about homosexuals in a certain way, she said.
The Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate this case.
They told Action 4 News the charges may be upgraded depending on what they find.
If you have any information on this case please call their crime stoppers line at (956) 668-8477.