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Gay YouTube Star Accused Of Faking Hate Crime Charged With Vandalism

calummcswiggan.jpg
The left image is McSwiggan's booking photo, taken prior to the right-hand image, which he uploaded to Instagram. (L.A. County Sheriff's Dept./Instagram)
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A YouTube star who was accused of faking a hate crime in West Hollywood has now been charged with vandalism. Calum McSwiggan, 26, is a British YouTube vlogger who discusses LGBT issues on his popular channel, EatGayLove. Back in June, McSwiggan was in town for VidCon and later went out with a few friends to The Abbey in West Hollywood. He claimed that outside of the club, he was jumped by three men. McSwiggan has now been charged on suspicion of vandalism over $400 as well as making a false report, to which he pleaded not guilty on Monday, according to a release from the L.A. County District Attorney's office.

Prosecutors allege that McSwiggan was not attacked, but did damage the mirror and bumper of a parked car. They also allege that he then filed a false report indicating that he had been beaten up by the car's driver as well as two other men. If convicted as charged, he could face up to three years and six months in jail.

After the incident, McSwiggan took to social media to talk about the supposed attack, suggesting that he was targeted because he was gay. He posted a photo of himself in the hospital to Instagram, stating that he had suffered "three broken teeth and six stitches" in his forehead. "I've never felt so terrified to be a gay man in the public eye," he wrote.

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From the onset, the West Hollywood Sheriff's Department was suspicious of his story. They stated that McSwiggan had no visible injuries when they responded to reports of an assault. They arrested McSwiggan on suspicion of vandalism, and said that the injuries depicted in his Instagram photo were ones he had caused himself with a telephone receiver located in his jail cell. They say he was only taken to the hospital after he was seen hitting himself with the telephone, the L.A. Times reports. Authorities point to McSwiggan's booking photo, in which he appears uninjured.

McSwiggan posted his version of the incident in a Facebook post dated June 29. He said that while at the Abbey, he met a guy he "took a liking to" and left the club with him. Though he admits his memory of the night is hazy, he said he was pretty sure they also left with two of the man's friends. He said that after the group walked to the man's car, something changed and a fight broke out.

After this I was talking to them, I don't remember about what specifically, but at some point in that conversation his tone and attitude flipped. He said something about my friend Melanie and then punched me in the mouth. I blacked out quickly after this but remember being kicked in the body multiple times, I believe by all three men.

He said that when he came to, he realized that one of his teeth was broken and that "in a moment of devastation, anger and blind rage I kicked the wing mirror of the attacker's car until it broke and then ripped it off with my hands. I also scratched the front of the car with the broken wing mirror before returning back to The Abbey for help."

He then stated that he asked a friend to call the police, who later arrested him. He also admitted that he did hit himself with the telephone, but only to get out of the jail cell and into a hospital. Despite the charges, McSwiggan has received a considerable amount of support on social media.

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Hate crimes in West Hollywood are not unheard of, despite the city's reputation for being LGBT-friendly. An Abbey employee said he was attacked over his sexuality in April in West Hollywood as he headed to his car. Across L.A. County, hate crimes surged 24 percent in 2015, particularly against black, Latino and Jewish individuals, and especially against transgender women.