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It’s been almost a year since James Benham, a former Navy SEAL, was found guilty of two felony counts of assault. He’s still yet to be sentenced for those crimes and two misdemeanor counts related to a September 2006 attack on a few local goths in Old Town.

“I was called a gothic faggot,” says James Howard, who asserts that the unprovoked assault on him, Mark and Lora Williams, and area deejay Robin Roth resulted in over $25,000 in medical bills.

“The defense tried to play the ‘they were scary goths’ card,” says Howard. “So we all showed up to the trial wearing exactly what we wore the night of the incident, which was pretty damn tame because we were dressed to go to dinner. In Benham’s version of the story, I was wearing a leather trench coat, steel-toed boots, and leather pants. Yeah, right, in mid-September? The only detail they got right was that I was wearing all black and had an earring.”

Howard says the judge “…saw fit to extend a continuance of sentencing, until Mr. Benham serves out the remainder of his term in the Navy.” That means Benham won’t face sentencing any sooner than November 20.

“If any of us had been found guilty of such a hideous crime, we would have immediate sentencing [and] lose our jobs,” says Howard. “Justice was soft-served. Even though I have physically recovered from the assault, the psychological effects still remain.”

Howard, a member of the Gothic Volunteer Alliance, says his organization provides community services such as fundraisers for the SPCA, the Humane Society, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The group takes part in graffiti removal, voter-registration drives, and its next beach cleanup takes place August 3 at South Mission Beach.

– Jay Allen Sanford

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kate July 24, 2008 @ 3:21 a.m.

I was appalled when I read that the sentencing of these men has yet to take place after such a vicious assault. It places their careers ahead of the public safety of other residents and also, more importantly above the justice for James Howard.

In Lancashire, UK, last August, Sophie Lancaster, aged 20, was murdered by being kicked and stamped to death. She was a beautiful alternative young woman. She was on her way home from her friends with her partner, like James, just out for the evening, when five youths attacked Rob and when Sophie tried to stop them, they turned on her and left her for dead. Rob was unconscious, and is still recovering from the wicked attack and death of his loved one.

Her mother and friends have established The Sophie Lancaster Foundation in her memory. It aims to raise awareness world wide of the issue of the abuse (often violent, as you have reported here) suffered by goths,emos, punks(remember US Brian Deneke?)and metal fans.

We want to research the extent of the violence as we know it often goes unreported and is seen as fights rather than attacks.

Sophie's mother is raising money for the Foundation, some of which will go to the hospital near Manchester, where Sophie was nursed before they had to turn her life support machine off on the 24th August.

Two youths were sentenced, one after pleading guilty and one after facing a trial, in April this year. They received 16 and 18 years. American supporters said how lenient that was, but James has had no justice yet.Where is the outcry in San Diego about this?

Please join us by going to myspace.com/inmemoryofsophie. We have had 111,000 hits and nearly 10,000 friends on there , many from America.

I hope the judge finally gives substantial sentences to Benham, appropriate to the seriousness of this violent assault. We have to stamp out this intolerance, prejudice and hatred shown to people from alternative subcultures.

The judge in Sophie's case said it was a hate crime, "equal to all other hate crimes". I hope Benham's judge thinks the same.

Kate Conboy-Greenwood

S.O.P.H.I.E.CAMPAIGN MANAGER

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Gothic_Elder_Vampire_Thomas July 24, 2008 @ 6:06 a.m.

There should be something done about the "special treatment" give to our special forces units in the military!!! Yes,they take on the most hazardous missions;BUT,that doesn't give them the right to use that to delay sentencing for a crime this individual S.E.A.L. was found guilty of!!! Maybe if there were a Civil Lawsuit against the U.S. Navy,the Department Of Defense,and the individual who was found guilty of this BRUTAL ASSAULT:then the military would do something more PRO-ACTIVE to stop crap like this from happening in the future. I also want to make it known,that all of this is coming from a veteran of the U.S. Navy,who was honorably discharged. And yes,I am Goth. I am proud of WHO I AM. And,several of my friends who are still on ACTIVE duty in both the Navy & Marines,are also Goth. We are NOT freaks;we are just DIFFERENT. And this crime should have been prosecuted as a HATE CRIME!!! Just the opinion of a humble Naval Vet.

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SelinaKyle9 July 25, 2008 @ 9:30 a.m.

It truly boggles my mind to hear that a judge is giving a sailor preferential treatment & waiting for a convicted criminal to finish serving his "tour of duty" before handing down a sentence for such a vicious crime. Why hasn't the Navy stepped in? Why is this man still serving? Where is his court martial or at the very least, his Dishonorable Discharge? What the hell is wrong with this city????? For Gods sake, a man was nearly killed for the simple reason of walking down the street, daring to be different & protecting his friends. I think that when November comes around and the judge FINALLY decides to sentence this piece of street scum, as a community, as a city, we need to turn out to let this judge know that he messed up by delaying sentencing just because this "man" is a sailor.

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Dull_Care July 28, 2008 @ 10:27 a.m.

And just think of what's gonna happen when all of our troops come back from fighting in the middle east. Think they're gonna be the kind, considerate hero's the media makes them out to be? Think again. Post traumatic stress syndrome anyone? And with military psychologists being urged to not diagnose PTSS as easily, our "boys" are just gonna have more reasons to behave like this when they come home.

Does this James Benham live here in San Diego still? Might have to track him down and give him a taste of his own medicine.......

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nada Aug. 3, 2008 @ 12:32 p.m.

I guess once in while you are going to run into a--holes that think they can get away with anything. This does not make it right and justice is indeed blind. I bet if it was some people from weird subcultures that did the beating up it would make headline news. They would get their a--es thrown into the slammer really fast and without hesitation.

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Fred Williams Aug. 4, 2008 @ 10:40 a.m.

I've never heard of this case before.

Usually, I'm apt at finding archive articles on such things. I've found nothing on this. Having listened to Robin Roth on the radio for years, I'm especially curious.

What did the court determine happened? Did they get into some sort of argument, or was this truly some kind of unprovoked assault?

Split between four people, $25k in medical bills isn't so much nowadays, but I'm a bit stunned that this story doesn't seem to have been much covered.

You'd think it'd end up on Fark.com.

Can someone post more details? Enquiring minds might not want to know, but I do...

I am not a goth, but I am a Navy Veteran, and when I was in we got double-punished for any kind of legal infraction -- once by the courts and again by the Navy.

What's going on here?

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dubya Oct. 15, 2008 @ 11:45 a.m.

The reson the judge delayed sentencing is because he saw something that the jury didn't. Yes, the SEAL may have kicked ass, but that's what he's trained to do. I find it very hard to believe that this was a totally unprovoked incident and obviously the judge thought so too.

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