A gay man who received an outpouring of sympathy after claiming to have been the victim of a hate crime reportedly sustained his injuries while brutally assaulting a pregnant woman.
According to San Diego KGTV, police received calls about a man attacking a pregnant woman on the 900 block of 6th avenue just after 10:40 PM on June 12. The department stated that officers were dispatched and arrived within minutes, but the suspect had already fled the scene. Police noted that the woman was bleeding from her injuries and had to be taken to the hospital. Over an hour later, police received a call from a man who claimed that he had been “set on fire.”
Scott Rowin claimed he had been targeted in what he alleged was a hate-motivated incident, and rapidly gained the support of the LGBT activist community.
In an interview with ABC-7 news on June 20, Rowin stated that he had been headed to a restaurant in his neighborhood to inquire about a job when he heard two people yelling homophobic slurs at him. Rowin said his would-be assailants used homophobic slurs before dousing him in an unknown liquid and setting him ablaze.
Rowin told ABC-7: “I went up kind of like coals on a BBQ. They were obviously out targeting LGBTQ community.” Rowin asserted that he suffered second-degree burns, mostly along his torso, hip, and back.
Rowin filed a police report just before midnight on June 12.
But, using CCTV surveillance video, detectives later identified Rowin as the man responsible for the brutal assault on the pregnant woman earlier that same evening. They also verified that Rowin’s burns were caused by the victim during the course of his assault in an apparent self-defense effort.
The video has not been released publicly.
San Diego Police Lieutenant Adam Sharki said the investigation was “complex” but that detectives were working to examine all aspects and allegations.
Rowin’s initial story, which has now been debunked, sparked outrage from LGBT activists on social media who claimed that the attack on Rowin was the result of bigotry and homophobia.
Andy Ngo, the senior editor at The Post Millennial, noted that Rowin had attracted support from Antifa groups as well.
In wake of the new details that Rowin apparently faked being the victim of a “hate crime,” some social media users drew comparisons to the 2018 incident involving Jussie Smollett.
Smollett, a once-prominent musician and actor, falsely told police that he had been physically attacked outside of his apartment building and that the attackers used homophobic and racial slurs while assaulting him. While he initially attracted widespread support, it was later revealed that Smollett had staged the crime and made a false report to the Chicago Police Department.
In December of 2021, Smollett was convicted of five felony counts of disorderly conduct and sentenced in March 2022 to 150 days in jail. He has since been released on bond while his case is on appeal.