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Accused of attacking several local goths, James Eric Benham was sentenced in late November for two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts of assault. Victim James Howard of the Gothic Volunteer Alliance says the Navy enlistee called him a “gothic faggot” before attacking him and Mark and Lora Williams.

Though Benham received 365 days in county jail, only 37 days will be served behind bars. According to Howard, “The remaining time, he is going to be on work furlough, where, by day, he will continue to work in the U.S. Navy as some sort of...clerk. He will not be permitted the use of a firearm or be placed back into the core combat unit [or] squad. At night, he will return to sleep in jail. He will have no weekends or day passes.”

The reason behind 37 days of hard time is that Benham only has that much administrative leave from the Navy.

“How a convicted two-count felon can [remain in the Navy], I am unsure of,” says Howard. “As further condition of the sentencing and rehabilitation, he will continue to undergo psychiatric treatment and evaluation from two doctors. He is required to attend cultural sensitivity classes exploring relations to interracial exposure, intercultural exposure, and intersexual orientation exposure.”

Howard says his injuries resulted in over $25,000 in medical bills. Restitution proceedings will be held on January 14.

— Jay Allen Sanford

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Jay Allen Sanford Dec. 23, 2008 @ 7:52 p.m.

Howard is a member of the Gothic Volunteer Alliance, which provides community services such as fundraisers for the SPCA, the Humane Society, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, as well as mounting local beach cleanups, graffiti removal, and voter registration drives.

“Goths in San Diego tend to have a little more of a sun tan than our northern brothers and sisters,” says Howard, “but that’s just a matter of adaptation to the environment. Seriously, though, goths are just people. So long as people can learn to celebrate their differences, and rejoice in their similarities, we’re all headed down a better road.”

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Jay Allen Sanford Dec. 23, 2008 @ 8:01 p.m.

Related Reader article: GOTHS FOR JESUS - PASTOR DAVE'S CHRISTIAN GOTHS: From the start, Pastor Dave was interested in starting a ministry for goth kids. He saw in them a fondness for the iconography and rituals endemic to church tradition (crosses, candles, incantations, etc.), as well as great intellectual capacity, emotional depth, and spiritual yearning....

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/aug/29/goths-for-jesus-pastor-daves-christian-goths

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