3 men allege ‘gay bashing’ in lawsuit against hotel and restaurant in Newport Beach
Three gay men are suing the Balboa Inn and the hotel’s Italian restaurant, alleging they were denied service, called a gay slur and forcefully removed from the Newport Beach property this month.
Angel Bonilla, Colton Moyer and Clement Serafin state in a civil lawsuit filed Monday in Orange County Superior Court that they entered Siena Cucina Italiana to have dinner at about 8 p.m. April 13. The restaurant is attached to the Balboa Inn at 105 Main St. on the Balboa Peninsula.
The lawsuit alleges the incident began when a bartender “forcefully and inappropriately demanded that plaintiffs show their respective identification cards because she wanted to create a ruse for refusing to serve them when her real motive was to not serve gay men.”
A call to the restaurant seeking comment was not immediately returned Thursday.
The suit states the bartender looked at each man’s card and announced loudly that the third one was “fake.” The men state in the suit they all are older than 21 and that the IDs were real.
The bartender then handed Serafin’s ID to a patron sitting at the bar who agreed it was “definitely a fake,” according to the filing.
“This was done with the specific intent … to cause humiliation and mental suffering to plaintiffs … because they are gay and because Bonilla is Hispanic,” the lawsuit states.
When the men asked to speak with a manager, the bartender screamed at them to “get out,” used profanity and a gay slur and told a security guard to remove them from the property, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint alleges the security guard yanked a bar stool from under Moyer, causing him to fall.
According to the lawsuit, the guard then pushed Moyer toward the door, shoved him against it and pushed him onto the curb. He then grabbed Bonilla and threw him onto the curb, the suit alleges.
Two cellphone videos posted to YouTube captured footage of portions of the incident.
A customer called police and an ambulance for the men.
The three are alleging assault, civil-rights violations, emotional distress and “gay bashing” and are seeking unspecified damages.
Newport Beach police are investigating the matter and have asked the public to help identify the security guard, a man described as 40 to 55 years old, 6 feet tall and roughly 200 pounds with gray hair. He is being sought for questioning, authorities said.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Det. Rick Henry at (949) 644-3790. Messages may be left anonymously on the Police Department’s recorded hotline at (800) 550-NBPD (550-6273).
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