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Civil trial begins against bar in beating of gay man who committed suicide

SALEM – More than a year after an openly gay Gloucester man committed suicide after being savagely beaten and mocked outside of a bar in 2009, a civil trial has begun in Superior Court to decide if the beating was a hate crime, and if the men who beat him contributed to his death.A jury of eight women and four men heard opening statements Thursday morning in the civil trial of 37-year-old Justin Goodwin, who filed a civil rights lawsuit against the men who beat him, as well as Old Timer?s Tavern, where the attack began, its former owner Michael Favazza and former manager Jon Churchill, before he died. But after he committed suicide on March 31, 2010, his father Paul Goodwin took over the suit, adding a wrongful death claim.Two men who already pleaded guilty to the beating and served time in state prison, Jonathan and William Chadwick, attended the trial, along with numerous members of Goodwin?s family, who cried openly as their attorney John Morris addressed the jury.?I?d like to introduce you to Justin Goodwin, the reason we?re all here today,” Morris began, holding up a picture of Goodwin taken before the beating.Morris described the night of April 10, 2009, when Goodwin was beaten, and how he took a train from his home in Salem to Gloucester to cook dinner and go to a bar with his sister, Kalem Goodwin, and her boyfriend.Morris said Kalem Goodwin went to use the bar?s restroom and found herself being attacked, unprovoked, by another female patron who continued to hit her as she left the restroom, Morris said. He called Justin Goodwin the “peacemaker,” who came to the aid of his sister.Then out of nowhere, Morris said, a man “sucker-punched him in the face.” Soon after, a bouncer kicked the Goodwins and their companion out of the bar and into a dead-end alleyway.?They threw him out with the trash,” he said.Morris said a group of men then cornered Goodwin in the alley and beat him, breaking his jaw, cheek bone and eye socket, an event from which he never fully recovered.?After two years of living with the memory of what happened in the bar, Justin Goodwin took his own life,”But Worcester attorney Dan Shanahan, representing Old Timer?s and Favazza, told jurors a different version of the events in his opening remarks, saying that Justin Goodwin had put his hands on a girl and was punched in the face by her older brother. He also questioned Kalem Goodwin?s reasoning for not alerting security that she had been attacked in the bathroom.?Old Timer?s is not even notified so they can intervene,” Shanahan said. “But they did engage in conduct that put the bar on notice.”While Morris told jurors that the bar did not provide training to or supervise its employees, and were negligent in providing adequate security, Shanahan said there would be no evidence during the trial that the bar?s former owner and manager, who are defendants in the case, had any connection with the beating.?No employee of Old Timer?s knew or was aware of or complicit in that attack,” Shanahan said. “You?ll see diagrams of that alley. It?s all wall, no windows.”Shanahan also denied the Goodwins? assertion that the men beat Justin Goodwin because of his sexual orientation, although witnesses recalled hearing the men use homophobic slurs during the beating.?Nothing can dispute what the men did, they pled guilty, but it had nothing to do with a hate crime or with being gay,” Shanahan said.Morris?s partner in the trial, Salem attorney Kevin Foley, anticipated the trial would take about a week.Taylor Provost can be reached at [email protected]

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