The sisters of a gay man who died in the West Hollywood home of Ed Buck last year have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the wealthy Democratic donor, alleging he was a drug dealer who preyed on black men and injected their brother with a lethal dose of crystal methamphetamine for his own sexual gratification.
Joyce Jackson and Joann Campbell filed the lawsuit Tuesday, the first anniversary of the death of their 55-year-old brother, Timothy Dean. Dean was found dead of a drug overdose inside Buck’s West Hollywood home Jan. 7, 2019.
It was the second time in less than two years that a black man had died of an overdose at Buck’s home. After significant outcry from activists, Dean’s death prompted authorities to launch an investigation into Buck’s actions.
Attorney Hussain Turk, who is representing the families of Dean and Gemmel Moore, who was found dead in Buck’s home in July 2017, said it took unreasonable efforts from the community to get the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office to look at the information they had gathered about Buck, a longtime donor to the Democratic Party and a fixture in West Hollywood.
Buck has been indicted on federal charges of providing the meth that led to the deaths of both Moore, 26, and Dean. The L.A. County district attorney’s office has also charged Buck, 65, with battery and operating a drug den. He has pleaded not guilty and remains in federal custody.
Prosecutors allege Buck preyed on vulnerable gay black men who were homeless, addicted to drugs or working as escorts and lured them to his Laurel Avenue apartment, where he manipulated them into doing drugs for his sexual gratification.
“The issue of sexual violence has become very salient thanks to the #MeToo movement, but one of the failures of the movement is that really only wealthy, white women are trusted when they come forward with allegations,” Turk said. “Had the victims in this case been white or wealthy, then we firmly believe that the claims would have been taken much more seriously.”
Several men have claimed Buck injected them with methamphetamine as they slept. In one instance, a man said Buck referred to him using a racial slur, according to the lawsuit.
The suit alleges that Buck “had a predatory and injurious system of soliciting black gay men and watching them cling to life while battling symptoms of methamphetamine toxicity after he intravenously administered large doses of the drug to them.” The men engaged in sexual acts with and in front of Buck in exchange for compensation in the form of temporary housing, money, alcohol, marijuana and other substances, court records show.
On occasions before Dean’s death, Buck had injected the man with crystal methamphetamine without his consent and then forced him to watch hardcore pornographic films and perform sex acts, according to the lawsuit.
When reached by phone Wednesday, Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, told a Times reporter that he was not aware that a civil lawsuit had been filed. He did not have an immediate comment.
Amster has previously told The Times that critics had unfairly used race to blame Buck for the deaths, saying, “Some people who all of a sudden have media attention are trying to divide the races.”
The lawsuit accuses Buck of sexual battery, assault, hate violence, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress as well as other crimes. A separate civil lawsuit filed by Moore’s family last year, which in addition to Buck names L.A. County and Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey, is still ongoing.
A Times analysis of campaign finance records shows that, since the mid-2000s, Buck has given more than $500,000 to political candidates and causes, almost all of them linked to the Democratic Party. Forty politicians currently holding office in California have received donations from Buck, including Lacey, Gov. Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and U.S. Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank). Some politicians have returned the money.
“The goal is holding not only Ed Buck to account, but also the county and the leaders who are supposed to be protecting everyone in Los Angeles,” Turk said.