Philadelphia, February 24, 1999 - Two men were charged in an Irish district court late today with "assault causing serious harm," for the January 30 assault and beating of American author Robert Drake in Sligo, Ireland. The Irish Police Force (Gardaí Siochana) arrested the men early this morning. The men, whose names have not been released, were questioned all day by police in connection with the assault. According to a Gardaí spokesman, they were detained in accordance with Section 4 of the Irish Criminal Justice Act of 1984, which relates to crimes that carry a sentence of five or more years. "Assault causing serious harm" is the most severe as-sault charge in the Irish court system.
The men were remanded on bail until March 18, at which point they will return to court. No further details were available from Gardaí officers, pending completion of the court's official report. According to yesterday's Irish Times newspaper, the men had voluntarily delivered a statement to police earlier in the month, accompanied by an attorney.
Drake was found bleeding and unconscious by a friend on Jan. 31 in his apartment in Sligo, Ireland. He has been in critical condition since the incident, and is currently at Dublin's William Beaumont Hospital. Through careful monitoring and constant medical treatment, doctors have brought Drake's temperature to near-normal, from a peak of 107 degrees Fahrenheit last week.
While friends of the author hope to bring him to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for treatment, a Beaumont neurosurgeon would say only that Drake is "very critically ill," and cannot yet be transported from Ireland.
To help bring Drake back to the United States, friends and organizations in the U.S. and in Ireland are holding fund-raising events on his behalf. On Friday, March 5, Philadelphia bookstore Giovanni's Room will host a reading featuring authors who are familiar with Drake and his writing. For information about the reading, call Ed Hermance at 215/923.2960.
On Saturday, March 6, the Lavender and Green Alliance, a New York lesbian and gay Irish group, will raise funds for Drake at its annual St. Patrick's Day dinner. The event will be held at St. Paul the Apostle Church, 59th Street and 9th Avenue in New York City. Details about this event are available from Brendan Fay at 212/740-9504.
And at the University of Pennsylvania, Sigma Nu fraternity members are selling buttons that say, simply, "Robert," to raise funds. Details are available on the Internet the following Web address: http://www.indiana.edu/~lambda10/sigma_nu_fraternity.htm.
Individual contributions may be sent to the Robert Drake Fund in care of the Baltimore Alternative, P.O. Box 2351, Baltimore, MD 21203.
Drake, 36, is a leading figure in the world of gay and lesbian literature. His most recent book (1998) is The Gay Canon: Great Books Every Gay Man Should Read (Anchor Books). He had been living in Ireland for the past year, researching and writing a new novel set there.
Drake's partner of six years, E. Scott Pretorius, MD, is the chief resident in radiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
"We are pleased that the Irish police are vigorously pursuing this investigation," said Pretorius. "It is our hope that these men will be quickly prosecuted to the fullest extent of Irish law - not only for Robert's sake, but also to raise awareness that gay-bashing and similar hate crimes will not be tolerated by any culture."
For information on hate crimes and how to eradicate hate crimes in the U.S., contact the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force at 202/332.6483 (www.ngltf.org). Other sources for news on Drake are www.BaltAlt.com and www.sas.upenn.edu/~rbloom/robert_drake.html.