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