Gay Rights Leader Charged in Rape
The following is from the Columbus _Dispatch_, February 14, 1991.
Gay Rights Leader Charged in Rape
by Bruce Cadwallader, _Dispatch_ police reporter
The president of a gay rights organization was charged yesterday with
the rape of a homosexual date.
Russell A. Stalk, 32, was elected president of the Stonewall Union in
September. The homosexual advocacy organization recently received federal
and local grants to fight anti-gay violence.
Columbus police arrested Stalk of 1224 Summit St. in an adult bookstore
he manages on Harrisburg Pike. A Newark, Ohio, man said that on Feb. 5
he was bound with a necktie and raped repeatedly by Stalk, police
Stalk was held in the Franklin County jail pending a court hearing
Police detectives said the case is rare because it involves two men, but
it is being treated like any other "date rape" case. Detectives said
they were seeking information on a 1979 case in Lima, Ohio, in which
Stalk pleaded guilty to raping a 12-year-old boy. Stalk said the boy was
a teen prostitute, police said.
Ohio prison records say Stalk served four years of a 6- to 25-year
sentence for the rape. He was released from parole in November 1985.
In October, Stalk and his lover applied for a marriage license.
Franklin County Probate Judge Richard B. Metcalf refused to grant it. He
said Ohio law prohibits the legal marriage of people of the same sex.
More recently, Stalk criticized news media coverage of gay issues and
helped his organization receive $12,000 in federal and local grants to aid
gay crime victims and increase public awareness of bias crime. An Ohio
Department of Health official said yesterday the grants will be honored
because they were issued to Stonewall Union.
Rhonda Rivera, a professor of law at The Ohio State University and
former Stonewall president was shocked to learn of the rape charge. She
hoped it would not cast a bad light on the agency's work.
"It's going to come as a gruesome shock to them (Stonewall board
members), and they are going to be appalled," Rivera said. "The gay
community is appalled by any kind of violence, and certainly rape is one
of the most heinous crimes I can think of."
Holly Featherstone, current Stonewall vice president, declined comment
on the charge. She said the board will meet in an emergency session
In an interview about the grants last month, Stalk told _The_Dispatch_,
"This is something Stonewall Uniion has always worked on ... encouraging
people to come forward" with reports of violence.
The 24-year-old man who filed the charge against Stalk told
_The_Dispatch_ he wanted to do just that, in case others with a similar
experience were afraid to report a crime.
"If I don't say something, I have to carry it all my life and secondly,
he gets away with it," the man said. "I never in my wildest nightmares
imagined he'd do what he did."
The official charge against Stalk is that he forced the man to perform
oral sex. THe victim said the attack was much more.
The victim said he has known he is gay since he was 13. A friend
suggested he go to the Columbus Eagle Bar at 232 N. 3rd St. to meet new
friends. He said it was his first time at such a bar.
A man who identified himself as Stalk approached him and began making
conversation and, the victim said, tried to gain his confidence because of
his affiliation with Stonewall. They had several drinks.
THe victim said he agreed to go to Stalk's house but only to talk.
Once there, Stalk made him put on a tie and then choked him with it,
bound his hands with another tie, poured hair-styling gel into him and
commited sexual acts, the victim said.
THe victim said his face was burned with a chemical snuff and that he
was forced into a bathtub, was doused with barbecue sauce and sexually
Later, Stalk told him to shower and drove him back to his car, the
victim said. He said he returned to Newark and later sought medical
A police detective persuaded him to report the incident.
I'll post everything the _Dispatch_ publishes about this, unless the
moderator does a tappity-whack. I think this is important, even though,
strictly speaking this crime doesn't involve women.
--- msged 1.99S ZTC
* Origin: It's all for my true love, who's far, far away (1:226/20.16)
From the February 15, 1991 Columbus _Dispatch_
Rape Suspect Resigns Post in Gay Group
by Mary Stephens, _Dispatch_ staff reporter
Russell A. Stalk, 32, accused of rapist, [sic] resigned yesterday as
president and a board member of Stonewall Union, a gay advocacy group, the
new president said last night.
Stalk was elected president of the group in September, replacing Chris
Cozad. Cozad said last night the group's board elected her to fill the
remainder of Stalk's one-year term.
Stalk is accused of tying up and raping a Newark, Ohio, man. The victim
says he met Stalk in a bar Feb. 5.
Judge Guy L. Reece II of Franklin County Municipal Court set Stalk's
bail at $75,000 yesterday.
"Obviously, it's quite a shock," said Michael Scarce, vice president of
the OSU Gay and Lesbian Alliance. "We in the gay community are targets
of violence often enough, and to have it happen in our own community is
even more disgusting."
Most gay leaders said they have always known Stalk to be a committed and
dependable organizer. They stressed he has not been found guilty of
raping the Newark man.
Some, however, said the charge is not as disturbing as the revelation
that Stalk pleaded guilty to raping a 12-year-old boy in Lima, Ohio, in
1979 and served four years in prison.
"That is the most unnerving thing," said Rhonda Rivera, an Ohio State
University law professor and a past president of Stonewall Union.
Past and present leaders of Stonewall Union met last night to decide how
to respond to the rape accusation.
Background checks are not routine for Stonewall Union members who, like
Stalk, begin as volunteers and work their way up to leadership positions.
Rivera said. Only the group's treasurer, who must be bonded, is usually
checked she said.
She expressed some doubt about the current charge against Stalk and said
she worries that the alleged crime will inflame anti-gay sentiment.
"I'm sure there are people who will seize on this opportunity," she
said. "People who don't like gay people will find any excuse to say
something bad about them."
Jerry Bunge, a lawyer and chairman of the Gay/Lesbian Rights Project of
the Ohio American Civil Liberties Union, said he hopes people will not
jump to the conclusion that violent gay rape is common.
He objected to the inclusion of bizarre details about the alleged attack
in a _Dispatch_ story. "That's so far beyond what most gay people think
of as normal sex," Bunge said. "(Heterosexual) people may assume that's
normal gay behavior, and it's not."
Before going to police with his accusation against Stalk, the victim
repeatedly asked Stalk for money to pay hospital bills related to the
attack, Columbus detective Mike Spencer said yesterday.
The man had first- and second-degree burns on his face from a liquid
chemical some homosexuals use as an aphrodisiac, Spencer said.
Stalk promised to give the man some money but never did, Spencer said
the man told him.
Stalk has called for greater awareness of hate crimes against gays.
Stonewall Union recently received $12,000 in federal and local money to
address the problem.
Cozad said a coordinator has been hired for the anti-violence program,
and a 24-hour hot line for victims is to be set up soon.
The grant money also is for self-defense and rape prevention classes
that begin next week she said.
This is the second post on this story. I will continue to post whatever
coverage the _Dispatch_ gives this issue, for I feel it is important even
in no women were involved.
The following is from the February 16, Columbus _Dispatch_.
Gay Leader Says Group to COntinue
President accused of rape resigns, new leader named
by Robert Albrecht, _Dispatch_ staff reporter
"We are still a functioning healthy organization and intend to go on
with business as usual," Chris Cozad said of Stonewall Union after
resuming duties as its president yesterday.
The advocacy group for homosexuals lost Russell A. Stalk, 32, as its
president Thursday night when he resigned, a day after being arrested on a
A 24-year-old man from Newark, Ohio, has accused Stalk of raping him
Feb. 5 after they met in a bar on N. 3rd Street. Stalk remained in the
Franklin County jail in lieu of a $75,000 surety bond.
Evidence in the case is being considered by a grand jury, a worker in
the Municipal Court clerk's office said yesterday.
Stalk resigned voluntarily, Rhonda Rivera, a former president of the
group, said at a news conference.
Cozad said Stalk made no requests for legal assistance. Stonewall Union
is not equipped to offer that kind of support, she noted.
Cozad was Stalk's immediate predecessor in the Stonewall presidency. He
was elected head of the group, with 700 dues-paying members, in September.
"Stonewall Union does not condone criminal activity," Cozad said in a
prepared statement. "We hope sensationalism will not obscure the
presumption of Mr. Stalk's innocence or jeopardize his right to a fair
Douglas Whaley, another former Stonewall Union president, said, "We hope
we can persuade the Columbus community that this is an aberration and not
business as usual."
The charge comes at a time when the gay community is calling for help in
quelling violence against homosexuals.
A case in which both the victim and the alleged assailant are homosexual
plays to the beliefs of the wrong people, according to Stonewall leaders.
"This is every homophobe's dream," Whaley said.
Ohio prison records indicate Stalk served time in prison after pleading
guilty in 1979 to raping a 12-year-old boy.
"The organization had absolutely no knowledge," of Stalk's criminal
record, Rivera said.
"Women Against Rape supports Stonewall Union," members of that group
said in a news release yesterday. "The recent developments and charges
against Russell Stalk do not change that in any way," spokeswomen for the
This is the third article I have taken from the _Dispatch_ covering the
incident. I intend to post everything that is published in connection
with this incident, unless the moderator decides otherwise.