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Volleyball player murdered in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, gay news, Washington Blade

Puerto Rico’s hate crimes law includes sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. (Graphic by Raimond Spekking)

FAJARDO, Puerto Rico – A Puerto Rican man faces murder and other charges for allegedly stabbing a gay volleyball player to death last week.

Primera Hora reported Jesús David Hernández Otero’s family reported him missing on March 18 after he told his sister that he would return home shortly. Surfers at a nearby beach the following day found Hernández’s body with multiple stab wounds.

Authorities on March 19 arrested Neftalí Castillo Cabrera in connection with Hernández’s death.

Police officials told Primera Hora that Castillo attacked Hernández — who had been friends with his alleged killer since childhood and played on the same volleyball team with him — because he was gay. Pedro Julio Serrano of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, a local LGBT advocacy group, has urged authorities to investigate Hernández’s murder as a hate crime.

“They should not be afraid to bring an aggravating hate crime charge,” Serrano told el Nuevo Día on March 24.

Puerto Rico’s hate crimes law includes sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Gov. Alejandro García Padilla last May signed into law a bill that bans anti-LGBT discrimination in the U.S. commonwealth.


PHOTOS: Gay Games day 2

GG9, International Gay Games, Cleveland, Ohio, Gay Games 9, cheer, gay news, Washington Blade

Members of Cheer L.A., Cheer N.Y. and Cheer San Francisco performed in the Festival Village on Sunday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The International Gay Games continued in Cleveland on Sunday with sports and the opening of the Festival Village. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

CLICK HERE to see photos from the first day of the Gay Games.


VCU upholds firing of gay coach

James Finley, VCU, ENDA, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, gay news, Washington Blade, Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU women’s volleyball coach James Finley says he was fired because he’s gay. (Photo courtesy of Finley)

An investigation by Virginia Commonwealth University’s diversity office has determined that a decision in November to fire the gay coach of the women’s volleyball team was made “in compliance” with VCU’s employment policies, according to a statement by VCU President Michael Rao.

Coach James Finely, 52, who led his team to a 25-6 winning record in 2012, has accused the school’s recently appointed athletics director of declining to renew his contract because of Finely’s sexual orientation.

“The Office of Institutional Equity’s exhaustive investigation confirmed that the employment decision was made in accordance with VCU policies and not as the result of any discriminatory action by our athletic director,” Rao said in his statement.

“The investigation included fact-finding interviews with 16 individuals and a review of applicable personnel records,” the university said in the statement. “The investigation concluded that allegations of discrimination based on sexual orientation were unsubstantiated.”

It added, “The details of the report cannot be released publicly by VCU without the consent of the complainant because they include confidential personnel information.”

Athletic director Ed McLaughlin has said his reason for not renewing Finley’s contract was based on plans to take the volleyball program in a “different direction” and had nothing to do with the coach’s sexual orientation.

But Finley has said volleyball players on the team told him McLaughlin told them the university wants a coach who would “represent the university well,” a comment Finley interprets to mean a gay coach cannot represent the school favorably.

In his own statement responding to VCU’s decision to uphold his firing, Finley said he would review his options for challenging the university’s action with legal counsel.

“I’m obviously disappointed in the outcome of VCU’s initial investigation into my discrimination complaint,” he said. “I am dismayed by the poor quality of the investigative procedures followed and by numerous factual inaccuracies included in the report that appear to provide the basis for the conclusion reached,” he said.

Finley said he was especially troubled that procedures followed by the Office of Institutional Equity “provided me with no opportunity to respond to any of the erroneous information brought forward in the investigation to justify the action taken.”

Finley, who issued his statement through the LGBT advocacy group Get Equal, didn’t immediately say whether he would release the investigative report that VCU says was confidential.