Man charged with assault in beating of gay Nanaimo university student

Man charged with assault in beating of gay Nanaimo university student
Spencer Frey, 19, was left with multiple injuries that required hospitalization after the March 27 attack.

A charge has been laid against a 19-year-old Nanaimo man accused of violently beating a Vancouver Island University student who says he was targeted because he is gay.

Ryan John Seaman is charged with assault in relation to the March 27 attack on 19-year-old Spencer Frey at a house party in north Nanaimo.

Frey said he was attending the weekend party with friends when things escalated after midnight, with one partygoer telling him “you’re disgusting” and using a homophobic slur against him.

Moments later, Frey said another partygoer came up behind him and squeezed his buttocks, and then as he was preparing to leave, a third male approached him.

“He goes, ‘you’ve been looking at me all night,’ and then I’m like ‘nobody’s been looking at you.’ And then I just get punched,” Frey told CHEK News in March. “I just get punched right in the face.”

The next few moments were a blur for Frey as his friends reported several males ganged up on him, with Frey being punched several times.

A 19-year-old suspect was arrested in the days following the attack, and released from custody pending a court date.

On Monday, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman Const. Gary O’Brien confirmed an assault charge had been laid against Seaman, who appeared in court on May 24. His next court appearance is pending.

Seaman has not been charged with a hate crime, the BC Prosecution Service confirmed to CHEK News, saying Crown counsel concluded that assault was the only offence that met the charge assessment standard.

However, Crown says if an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on factors like race, language or sexual orientation, it can be an aggravating factor on sentencing.

Frey has said he will not be returning to Nanaimo to complete his third year of his program at Vancouver Island University because of the assault. The university said it offered ongoing support to Frey and his family and is asking anyone with information that could help in the investigation to contact RCMP.

The attack drew condemnation from politicians including Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog and B.C. Premier John Horgan.


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