A Seattle man was attacked and his mother — who lives in Cameroon — was assaulted after a woman stole his phone and posted intimate photos of the man and his husband online, according to prosecutors. Two men have since been charged with a hate crime.
Editor’s note: All charges against the defendants in this case were dismissed in September 2021. Read more here.
After a Seattle man’s former house guest released intimate photos of him and his husband to members of the region’s Cameroon community, the man was attacked outside his North Seattle apartment last month and his mother — who still lives in the Central African country where homosexuality is illegal — was assaulted and had her house destroyed, according to police and prosecutors.
Christian Djoko, 27, of Bothell, and Rodrigue Fodjo-Kamden, 32, of Lynnwood — both members of the local Cameroon community — were each charged last week with malicious harassment, the state’s hate-crime statute, for allegedly ambushing the victim outside his house and assaulting him because of his sexual orientation, charging papers say.
Fodjo-Kamden was arrested Nov. 3 and spent two days in jail before posting bail, jail records show. Jail records say he posted a $15,000 bond, but court records indicate his bail was set at $50,000.
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Djoko was arrested Saturday and remains jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail, according to jail records.
The female house guest who allegedly stole the victim’s cellphone and sent private text messages and photos of the man and his husband to the victim’s relatives and then posted them to various social-media sites remains at large and is believed to have moved to Washington, D.C., charging papers say.
In one Facebook post, the woman allegedly used an anti-gay slur and said the victim “needs to kill himself after writing his will,” say the charges.
The Seattle Times is not naming her because she has not been charged with a crime.
Seattle police requested the FBI’s assistance investigating the case because there is potential that an international crime of internet stalking charge could be brought, though the charges don’t specify who might face such a charge.
State law defines malicious harassment — a felony commonly referred to as a hate crime — as intentionally injuring, damaging property or threatening someone because of his or her perception of the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical or sensory handicap.
The number of hate crimes has skyrocketed across the country since the 2016 presidential election, The Seattle Times reported this month. In Seattle, the number of reported hate crimes almost doubled, from 118 incidents in 2016 to 234 in 2017. Of the hate crimes reported in the city last year, 57 of the cases were based on victims’ sexual orientation.
Amnesty International lists Cameroon as one of seven nations where discrimination against LBGT people is especially dangerous and where men have been imprisoned for “homosexual acts.”
According to charging papers:
At 1 a.m. on Oct. 21, the victim parked his car and was walking toward his apartment building when two men he knew from Seattle’s Cameroon community quickly approached him on foot.
One of them grabbed the man’s wrists and held them behind his back while the second assailant violently shook the man by his ears, causing him to fall to the ground, charging papers say. The victim, who suffered injuries to his ears and knees, later told police his assailants spoke to him in French, called him a variety of derogatory names pertaining to his sexual orientation and said he needed to change, say the charges.
The victim, who reported the alleged hate crime to police the next day, told officers he’d let a female friend from Cameroon stay with him and his husband when she moved to Seattle in December and confided in her that he is gay, the charges say. The woman, who “constantly told him he needed to change from being gay” and offered to have sex with him to “make him straight,” began releasing the victim’s private photos in August and moved out in September, say charging papers.
One photo she allegedly released was of the couple’s marriage certificate.
Soon after the photos were posted online, the victim started receiving threatening text and voicemail messages. He told police he believed the Oct. 21 attack was related to his former house guest. He also reported that his mother had been assaulted and her house trashed.
After an officer helped the victim obtain a protection order against Djoko and Fodjo-Kamden, the victim reported on Nov. 2 that his car had been spray-painted with anti-gay slurs and crude images of penises, the charges say.
In a later interview with a Seattle police detective and an FBI agent, the victim “was extremely emotional, sad, quiet, (and) weeping at times. He was very fearful for himself and his family in Cameroon,” the charges say.
He gave investigators a photo of a medical document showing his mother had sought treatment for her injuries after she was assaulted and the detective found a social-media post where an unidentified person referenced “destroying” the mother’s house in Cameroon, say charging papers.
The victim also showed the detective and agent the photos that had been posted on different websites, which were images of what a “reasonable person (would) conclude were of a gay couple,” the charges say.