Metro Weekly

Man to Serve 4 Days in Jail for Assaulting Gay Fashion Designer

Jesus Zepeda received a suspended 5-year sentence for his attack on designer Pol' Atteu, who fought to have it recognized as a hate crime.

Pol’ Atteu - Photo: Facebook
Pol’ Atteu – Photo: Facebook

A California man was sentenced to five years in prison for attacking a gay fashion designer, in what prosecutors now acknowledge was a hate crime.

Jesus Rodolfo Zepeda was previously convicted of assaulting prominent fashion designer Pol’ Atteu during a September 2019 charity fashion show at St. John’s Cathedral in Los Angeles.

The event benefitted the Make-a-Wish Foundation and was featured in Atteu and his husband, Patrik Simpson’s reality show, Gown and Out in Beverly Hills.

The attack landed Atteu in the hospital for two days with a concussion, a broken shoulder, bruises, and other injuries.

Zepeda, who was reportedly upset after Atteu had cut his nine-year-old daughter from the show, was apprehended but released shortly afterward due to policies intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among prisoners at the height of the pandemic.

Last week, Zepeda received a suspended sentence of five years in state prison for the assault. He will only be required to serve four days in county jail and has been credited with time already served.

He will have to comply with various conditions as part of his release on probation. Zepeda’s behavior will be heavily monitored, with any further offenses, even minor ones, resulting in immediate imprisonment.

Atteu and Simpson have been granted a 10-year order of protection against Zepeda. 

“If he gets pulled over, or if he says something derogatory, negative, or does anything bad, he will go to jail for a minimum of five years,” Simpson told The Advocate.

The couple said that they faced struggles with the justice system, with prosecutors initially hesitating to classify the assault as a hate crime based on anti-LGBTQ animus.

“I don’t think I was given justice,” Atteu told the LGBTQ magazine about prosecutors’ reluctance. “I don’t think we were able to find a resolution, and I understand that it had to fall within the guidelines of what the law is, but it wasn’t there to protect me, it wasn’t there to help me.”

The couple continued to insist that the attack be acknowledged as motivated — at least in part — by homophobia, noting that Zepeda repeatedly called Atteu anti-gay slurs during the assault.

The couple hope to use their public platform to advocate for others hesitant to report hate crimes, including members of the LGBTQ community who may face similar struggles in getting law enforcement and prosecutors to recognize crimes as motivated by bias.

“I want to see if I can advocate for others and maybe give them insight into how it could be done, what documentation needs to be filled, where they go to get the kind of help they need,” Atteu said.

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