Gay YouTuber Calum McSwiggan Faked Alleged Hate Crime, Police Say
Calum McSwiggan wrote on Instagram that he was "beaten up by three guys," an assault he said left him with three broken teeth and six stitches
YouTube star Calum McSwiggan claims he was assaulted by three men outside of a gay bar in West Hollywood, Calif., early Monday morning. But the alleged hate crime may be fabricated, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department says in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
In an Instagram caption posted on Tuesday, McSwiggan claims that while out at a gay club, he was separated from his friends and “beaten up by three guys” who left him with three broken teeth and six stitches in his forehead.
“The authorities should have been there to help and protect me but instead they treated me like a second-class citizen,” the 26-year-old Englishman – who is known for YouTube content geared toward LGBT viewers and was in California for VidCon – charges in his message, which captions a selfie of him in a hospital bed. “I’ve never felt so terrified to be a gay man in the public eye.”
The Sheriff’s Department, however, says that officers responded to McSwiggan’s report early Monday morning but were “unable to substantiate the assault” and McSwiggan “had no visible injuries.” He was arrested at the scene when “deputies observed him vandalizing a car” on Santa Monica Boulevard, according to the department’s statement.
McSwiggan was booked at approximately 2:30 a.m. and placed into a cell alone at the West Hollywood Station, where he was later observed “injuring himself with the handle and receiver to a payphone inside the cell.”
It was then, the sheriff’s department says, that McSwiggan was taken to a local hospital to be treated for the injuries. “Mr. McSwiggan’s booking photo was taken prior to deputies seeing Mr. McSwiggan injuring himself,” the statement reads.
In McSwiggan’s mug shot, obtained by the Los Angeles Times, he has no visible injuries.
McSwiggan’s bail was set at $20,000 on a count of vandalism with property damage greater than $400 – a felony charge – according to jail records, and he was released at 9:13 p.m. on Monday.
On Tuesday night, McSwiggan took to Twitter, writing, “I’ve been told to say nothing before court tomorrow but staying silent here is killing us. If you’re a friend just DM me for the truth.”
Similarly, his friends Melanie Murphy and Riyadh Khalaf – who say they were with him at the club – have stated they won’t comment until “we know more.”
“I saw Cal screaming crying after the attack. He didn’t fake it,” Khalif tweeted following the alleged incident. Khalif also alleged that the attackers “knew where we were going to be because of our posts on social media before we went out and even said our names as they beat him.”
On Wednesday, McSwiggan wrote that he was at the courthouse, “but they have no record of anything.”
“As soon as our lawyers give us the all clear we will explain everything fully,” he wrote.
Wednesday afternoon, McSwiggan released a lengthy Facebook post giving a more detailed version of his story.
In the post, McSwiggan claims he left the popular gay bar The Abbey with a guy he “took a liking to.” He believes there were two of the man’s friends with him but admits “my memory is hazy with this.”
“I walked with him to a dark car park no more than five minutes away where, if they weren’t already with us, we were joined by two of his friends by his car. I know the car belonged to him because at one point he opened the door – I believe he was retrieving something from the glove box but I can’t be sure,” reads the post.
“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,” the post continues. “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.”
McSwiggan says when he came back to consciousness he realized one of his front teeth were broken.
“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,” he says in the post. “I also scratched the front of the car with the broken wing mirror before returning back to The Abbey for help.”
McSwiggan says he was eventually reunited with his friends, who called the police.
“I did not think that under the circumstances that I would be treated as a criminal and I suggested bringing the police to the vehicle so that they could take the registration and find the owner to prosecute him,” he explains. “After speaking on their phones and radios for a few minutes the police asked me again if it was me who damaged the car. I again confirmed that I had done it and the female police officer said, ‘I’m sorry, but I have no choice but to do this,’ and reached for her handcuffs. I said I understood and immediately put my hands behind my back so that she could handcuff me and put me in the back of the vehicle…[the officer] apologised but said that she did not believe I had been attacked due to the lack of physical injuries on my face.”
McSwiggan says that once in his cell, he was denied when he requested to speak to a “medical professional, a councillor, my parents, my friends, a lawyer, for a phone call, or to be transferred to a hospital.”
Upon overhearing the officers telling his father over the phone that bail was set at $20,000, McSwiggan says he panicked that his father would pay that full amount to get him released.
“I knew he would pay it and couldn’t allow him to do that. In a moment of desperation to get out of the cell, I took the pay phone off the wall and hit myself once across the forehead with it as hard as I could. I knew I had to injure myself to get out of the cell and into a hospital, and it was the only solution I could find to get myself out of there,” he says. “This is incredibly out of character for me and is testament to how upset I was in that moment. I do not regret doing this as I could still be in the jail cell if I didn’t.” The YouTube community appears torn over the situation, with Rustin Low writing on Facebook, “YOUTUBE FRIENDS: Read what Calum Andrew just attempted to capitalize off of and consider removing your collaboration videos.”
“Thank you for those that believed me from the start,” concluded McSwiggan’s Facebook post on Wednesday. “Your support has been the only thing that has gotten me and my friends through this nightmare of a situation. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”