Spencer Frey

A police investigation is underway after a possible hate crime this past weekend left a Nanaimo university student beaten and bruised because of his sexual orientation.

Nanaimo RCMP say a 19-year-old man was arrested Tuesday, following the alleged attack at a house party on Sunday, March 27th on Old Slope Road, near Mostar Road.

They’ve since been released from custody but have a date in court on May 24th and face one count of assault, according to police.

The victim, also 19 and identified by family as Spencer Frey, was “sitting in a chair minding his own business when the attack happened,” said Matthew Maclean, Frey’s brother.

Frey, an LGBTQ+ student at Vancouver Island University (VIU), reported the incident to police later that day and also went to the hospital to get treated for his injuries.

“It is alleged that the victim was punched in the head, then thrown to the ground where he received several more punches,” said Cst. Gary O’Brien.

“The assault was stopped after friends of the victim intervened.”

In a Tuesday statement, VIU’s associate vice-president of student affairs, Irlanda Gonzalez Price, called the incident “horrific” and said it “goes against everything VIU stands for.”

“VIU and the Nanaimo RCMP are taking this very seriously and are committed to working together in the investigation,” said Price, adding that VIU has contacted Frey and his family and is offering ongoing support.

But in a Facebook post, Maclean says it’s “clear that this university does not create a Queer positive environment that supports and protects its LGBTQ+ students.”

“The university has a job to establish a ‘no hate’ policy and provide straight cis students with education on Queer sexuality and identity so crimes like what happened to Spencer can be avoided,” added Maclean.

He says VIU needs to be held accountable, with those responsible for the attack “put behind bars so that Spencer can find justice.”

Government officials have since spoken up about the incident, including Premier John Horgan, who says there’s “no place for homophobia or any kind of hate in BC.”

“This is horrible. I’m so sorry this happened to Spencer,” wrote Horgan in a Wednesday tweet. 

“Let’s all #StandWithSpencer and against those who spread violence and hate.”

Although an arrest has been made, police are still asking witnesses to come forward. Anyone with information is urged to call Nanaimo RCMP (250) 754-2345, quoting file #2022-10317.

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