Controversy surrounds alleged anti-gay Saturday night mob beating near Duluth

A pro-gay rally was held yesterday in Proctor to show support for Pelofske, who claims he was victim of a hate crime Saturday night.EXPAND
A pro-gay rally was held yesterday in Proctor to show support for Pelofske, who claims he was victim of a hate crime Saturday night.

Max Pelofske, a 21-year-old Duluth man, says he was at a graduation party shortly after 11 p.m. on Saturday night when he was brutally beaten by an anti-gay mob.

Pelofske told the Duluth News Tribune he had just arrived at the party, held in an abandoned gravel pit in New Independence Township, when a young man approached him, asked him to look him in the eyes, and asked -- 'Are you gay?" Pelofske says he confirmed that he is, asked the young man 'Is that ok?,' then was beaten by a group of at least nine men. Police made two arrests in connection with the incident.

But other party attendees say Pelofske is lying. Megan Bird, a Proctor High School senior, said Pelofske actually instigated the altercation by stealing drinks. Another Proctor student, Cody Mercier, told the Tribune, "I know for a fact no one would touch him just because he was gay. This all happened because he was stealing alcohol."

Pelofske's account of the incident is seconded by Kelly Johnson, a friend of his who went to the party with him. Johnson says she and Pelofske didn't drink a sip of alcohol at the gathering and even asked police to give them breathalyzers to document that they were sober.

"I though they were going to kill him," Johnson said, adding that the beating went on for five to 10 minutes before Pelofske was able to get to his feet and run away. "I was screaming, 'just let us leave!'"

The two men arrested in connection with the alleged assault haven't yet been charged with crimes. St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin said he'd take his first look at investigators' reports today.

Despite the he said-she said nature of the allegations, a throng of about 100 people held a pro-gay rally yesterday afternoon in Proctor to show their support for Pelofske.

One of the rally attendees, Duluth businessman John Goldfine, said he just wants to make sure law enforcement thoroughly investigates Pelofske's hate crime allegation.

"Local law enforcement needs to know they need to be responsible in investigating these kinds of cases, because that standard of responsibility has not always been talked about or met in the past," Goldfine said.

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