Designer Attacked At Fashion Show Aims To Take Public Stand

Five years after freelance fashion designer Pol’ Atteu was attacked during a Make-A-Wish Foundation fashion show in Los Angeles, the sentencing of his attacker has prompted Atteu to take a more public stance to combat hate crimes.

Jesus Rodolfo Zepeda beat the designer in September 2019 at St. John’s Cathedral, and Zepeda was sentenced last month to five years in state prison but only had to serve four days in county jail due to other conditions. The sentence included a 10-year restraining order. But he got credit for time served and the rest was credited for time already served, barring any further offenses. Referring to last month’s sentencing, Atteu said Monday, “It was very difficult to be in the courtroom with him. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen it [in court]because I had to testify many times.”

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After being beaten and sworn at because of his gender identity, the designer said it was vital that the court recognize the act as a hate crime. California law defines a hate crime as a criminal act or credible threat of violence against a person or group of people targeted at the victims because of their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender identity, gender expression . , sexual orientation or disability.

Atteu said he intended to prove that “this was not just a brutal blow, but something that was very thought out, and [a matter of] to hate someone they didn’t know because I’m gay.” Atteu said he chose to take the case to trial during an interview Monday. He also wanted to make sure the offense counted as a “second strike” for Zepeda, who had committed another illegal act, which was not a hate crime, Atteu said.

“I feel that everyone in front of us in the LGBQT+ community has fought so hard to be recognized and recognized by the community. I thought if I didn’t do this with the energy I did, there was no way I would be able to survive on my own, knowing that I would let the whole community down,” said Atteu. “As part of that community, that’s me.”

Her husband Patrik Simpson, who appears with him on the Amazon Prime reality show “Gown and Out in Beverly Hills” and witnessed the attack, said, “It’s shocking to me that in 2024 we have hate crimes and people don’t is. comfortable with LGQT+ or don’t accept it. It’s a crazy town. Crazy town.”

John Padilla Yutan, an attorney for Zepeda, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday,

Atteu suggested tougher hate crime laws and that he would have to “go to great lengths” in court “for everyone who comes after him,” to set the record straight. As a “celebrity couple,” he and Simpson will be working with GLAAD, the West Hollywood Gay and Lesbian Community Center and The Advocate to bring attention to this issue. “We want to create a coalition where we can support and help individuals who have gone through this and may not have the resources or platforms to make their voices heard. We want to be a sounding board, a safe haven and a platform, where we can fight to make people understand that this is something that happens every day, especially in this community,” said Atteu.

In 2022 in the United States, there were 11,288 incidents of bias involving 13,2787 victims, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Of that total, 17.2 percent were attributed to sexual orientation. In California that same year, there were 1,495 hate crimes against people and almost 19 percent of those were due to sexual orientation. That total figure was a 66.1 percent increase compared to 2021.

Simpson said, “If telling Pol’s story means that one person who has been a victim of a hate crime can come forward, have the courage and the courage to tell the police their story and continue the prosecution, then I’m glad we are.” . coming forward.”

With Season Five of “Gown and Out in Beverly Hills” due out at the end of this summer, the two plan to weave the verdict and resolution into the narrative. They also host the weekly podcast “Undressed with Pol’ and Patrik” with another celebrity guest available on Apple, Spotify and YouTube. Atteu and Simpson host the weekly “Runway Rundown” segment on Jeff Lewis’ “Observed” show on Sirius XM’s Radio Andy.

The designer said Monday that he saw the attacker, later identified as Zepeda, during auditions for the show at his Beverly Hills flagship. Atteu said Zepeda was there under false pretenses, pretending to be a modeling agent. “It was all very uncomfortable so he was taken away from the premises,” he said.

Zepeda later showed up at the fashion show and falsely acted as if their 9-year-old daughter was part of it, according to the couple. At the time, the designer had collaborated with Disney star Ava Kolker and had enlisted other famous children to walk in the show, according to Simpson. When Atteu recognized Zepeda in the hair and make-up room, he escorted him out. Zepeda snuck back onto the property, hiding behind the bushes in the cathedral yard, and was attacked from behind, Atteu said Monday.

He and Simpson were taping “Gown and Out in Beverly Hills,” during the show. So, there were about 550 people there including a production crew, as well as models and runway show guests such as producer George Tillman Jr. Simpson, that he saw Atteu being beaten and called him a “fu#*ing fa*#ot”. and again,” but was unable to reach him because of a blocked entrance, Simpson said. About 12 of the swimsuit-clad models lined up and within earshot of the screams, a few were knocked down, and others tried to stop Zepeda as he fled, according to the couple. A security guard was employed on site, but he took a bathroom break without informing anyone. Atteu was in the hospital for two and a half days with a concussion, an injured shoulder and severe bruising. He said he still feels the “intensity of the blow” on the back of his head that started the attack. Arriving on the set of “The Bay”, the Peacock set for which he handles the wardrobes, Atteu said that he always positions himself so that no one can “sneak up behind him”.

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