This is a follow-up in our effort to separate fact from fiction in the alleged assault claimed by Parents and Friends of ExGays and Gays (PFOX) at the Arlington County Fair last month. If you haven’t read our earlier coverage, please do so first to help put the following in context. You can find what could be referred to as parts one and two in our archives, along with this related article.
When we last reported on this issue September 5, the Arlington County Police Department, representatives from the Arlington Fair, an Arlington County Board Member and two eyewitnesses all reported having no idea what PFOX was talking about when they claimed an assault had taken place at the Arlington County Fair on August 18. One thing has changed since that time.
On September 10, we received the following email from John Lisle, our contact at the ACPD. It was our original inquiry to him that started their investigation into the matter and we asked that he let us know if any new information turned up. This was also posted to the original thread by a commenter about an hour after we received it.
One officer told me today he was on patrol at the Fair when a woman approached him and told him a man had knocked over pamphlets at the PFOX booth and assaulted another man there.
The officer then spoke to the alleged victim. He did not want to press charges and therefore no written report was filed.
Based on the description the officer was given, he located the suspect at the Fair. Another officer escorted that gentleman off the Fair grounds.
This was quite exciting, as up to now we were coming up dry everywhere. Contrary to the way it has been framed by some, this obviously isn’t proof of an assault — even the police have no witnesses — but it is something. Clearly the PFOX workers had talked with the officers and we were able to exchange questions with them through Lisle over the next week or so.
We first verified the place and time. Whatever it was, it did in fact occur at approximately 5:00 PM ET, Saturday, August 18, at the PFOX booth located inside the indoor section of the Arlington County Fair. One can get a general idea of how the booths were arranged by the photograph to the left, however we were told that it was more crowded Saturday evening than in this photograph. This was also the time frame during which two witnesses told us they saw what they called a “heated discussion” at the PFOX booth (but no assault or literature thrown).
When questioned by the police, the alleged attacker denied hitting anyone but admitted that “his emotions got the best of him.” So while he could be lying, he could also be truthfully admitting to the “heated argument” that others have reported. Either way, we still have no one from a crowded, indoor location who saw a physical assault or literature being thrown to the floor — at least no one other than those at the PFOX table.
The police asked him to leave based on their belief that he was at the very least involved in some sort of disturbance, as even he admitted to becoming overly emotional. Since they saw nothing themselves, and the alleged victim did not press charges, no other action was taken. Currently, the police do not know the name of the alleged attacker, and they have no witnesses other than the two PFOX workers. If they had seen an attack themselves, they could have arrested the attacker whether the victim pressed charges or not.
In the mean time, PFOX found a sympathetic ear in Matt Barber, a Concerned Woman for America attorney and writer. In a web audio interview, PFOX executive director Regina Griggs and someone claiming to be the alleged victim, “David,” basically told the same story as before, while Barber read the email above from Lisle as “proof-positive that this occurred.” Again, it is certainly germane, but it is not proof of anything beyond the fact that someone from PFOX relayed this story to the police that evening, and based on that they asked someone to leave. As an attorney, Matt Barber of all people should understand the difference.
There were some other issues brought out in this interview. David describes the alleged attacker as “belligerent,” yet in the next breath says he invited him out to his car, away from the booth, to retrieve his Bible — not a smart move for someone he considered so threatening. Also, Griggs stated a couple of times that she was the woman at the booth with David, yet both our witnesses have identified Estella Salvatierra — a longtime PFOX vice president and moderator, who is a civil rights attorney for the FCC in Washington — as the woman there during the incident, and after. While we don’t currently have a photo of Griggs, there are at least 20 years and any number of physical differences between her and Salvatierra.
We don’t yet know why it would matter, but the evidence suggests that Griggs was not there and Salvatierra was, yet Griggs is saying otherwise. Lisle has also said that during her conversations with him, Griggs has never spoken as though she was present at the booth during the incident, as she does in the audio interview and other places. Again, we don’t yet know the significance of this, but she clearly can’t speak about events in the first person if she was not there at the time.
One additional clue to who was actually there is found in audio from the CWFA interview. In this short clip, you will hear David explaining part of the argument. He says about the alleged attacker, “then he… I think Est–, the other volunteer mentioned about …” It’s brief, but definitely there and when taken together with the other facts one can make a strong case that it was Estella Salvatierra in the booth next to David during the incident, and not Regina Griggs. The importance of this and why it is being hidden may become apparent at a later date.
Another interesting item is an observation by one of the witnesses we talked with, Vania Villanueva at her insurance booth. She identified Salvatierra as the woman who was arguing most fiercely, described ironically as “belligerent” to us, while the man she was yelling at stayed almost silent. We aren’t certain what to make of this either, but it is one more curious bit of information to add to the puzzle. Those who have been around Salvatierra tell us that she can be rather loud and imposing, even when not arguing.
To date we have received no reply from Griggs, in spite of the fact that no less than Exodus president Alan Chambers has repeatedly asked her to call us. I personally called Salvatierra, but aside from very loudly demanding to know where we were getting our information, she refused to discuss the matter. It would have helped our investigation significantly if we had been able to discuss this directly, but the people at PFOX continue to be extremely secretive.
Last week we received a call from Arlington County Fair Association chairman Shawn Kelley. Kelley is a retired Chief Fire Marshal with 27 years of public safety service in Arlington County. He said he had received no information to indicate that an assault actually took place, and so as far as he was concerned it had not. To our knowledge, no one else has changed their position on this matter, nor have they been able to find anyone who can attest to it having happened.
We would like to be more conclusive, but we hope that the reader can review the facts and the open questions, and come to some conclusions for themselves. While one can hardly take them seriously, the extreme right-wing tabloid World Net Daily created a story on this today, continuing to elevate the report of PFOX to the officers as if the officers had seen it.
It has been exceptionally difficult to cut through the misinformation to approach the truth in this matter, but once we started we thought it necessary to follow through. It should go without saying that no one should ever be assaulted over a debate of issues, nor should anyone be allowed to use an accusation of assault to falsely martyr a cause. Our concerns about the possibility of either have led us to investigate the Arlington incident intensely and responsibly. If something new should surface, we will report it.
PFOX Brochures: In case anyone would like to know what PFOX claims the world is “hungry for,” these are downloadable versions of the literature on their tables.