The website WipeOutHomophobia.com announced its immediate support for the young man. Within hours, the Facebook post showing his bruised face had garnered nearly half-a-million “likes.” The Huffington Post soon introduced “Joseph” to a national constituency.
State Representative Ellie Hill, D-Missoula, seized upon the attack to suggest sexual orientation be added to Montana’s hate crimes law, vowing to introduce the bill in January. “What occurred over the weekend in Missoula evidences” the need for such a law, she said.
However, video promptly surfaced showing Baken doing a backflip on a paved street, shortly after a cameraman said he had “a sexy belly.” The film captured Baken hurtling down toward the curb, and then smacking his face in the areas that appear bruised in the photograph.
On Thursday, he pleaded guilty to filing a false police report. A judge suspended a 180-day jail sentence and ordered him to pay a $300 fine.