A YouTube star has been charged with filing a false police report after police say he fabricated a hate crime. If convicted, he faces up to 364 days in jail, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was also charged with vandalism of property damage greater than $400, a felony for which bail was set at $20,000, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
26-year-old Calum McSwiggan has over 60,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, on which he makes videos about sex, mental health, and LGBT issues, according to his YouTube page.
Here’s everything you need to know about the case of Calum McSwiggan.
1. He Claims He Was Attacked Outside a Gay Bar
Last night was the worst night of my life and I'm really struggling to find the words to talk about it. After one of the most wonderful weekends at VidCon we went out to a gay club to celebrate, and towards the end of the evening I was separated from my friends and beaten up by three guys. The authorities should have been there to help and protect me but instead they treated me like a second class citizen. With three broken teeth and six stitches in my forehead, I've never felt so terrified to be a gay man in the public eye. All I can do is thank my wonderful YouTube friends for being with me the whole way. I'd be lost without them. Right now I don't feel that I'm in the right place to talk about this but I will be addressing this fully in the future. UPDATE: I've posted a full statement of the night's events on my Facebook page.
On June 27, Mcswiggan posted a photo on his Instagram page taken from a Los Angeles hospital.
In the caption, Mcswiggan writes that the previous evening he had been celebrating at a gay bar, later identified as The Abbey. He says that at the end of the night he was assaulted by three men after leaving the bar with a guy. He did not go into much detail in the initial post, but he said that the police were not there for him that night.
“The authorities should have been there to help and protect me but instead they treated me like a second class citizen,” he said. “With three broken teeth and six stitches in my forehead, I’ve never felt so terrified to be a gay man in the public eye.”
The post garnered over 5,000 likes and hundreds of supportive comments from his fans. His friend and fellow YouTuber Riyadh Khalaf backed up the story on Twitter that same day, writing that Mcswiggan was indeed attacked and saying that it’s disgusting to see events like this happen in today’s world.
2. Police Claim He Fabricated the Attack
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is telling a different story, claiming that Mcswiggan fabricated the crime himself.
In a statement, cops said that they responded to McSwiggan’s 911 call on Monday morning, but they were not able to verify the assault took place, and McSwiggan did not show visible signs of injury. He was then arrested when police say they saw him vandalizing a car, according to People.
He was taken to the West Hollywood Station, and shortly after police say they saw McSwiggan injuring himself with a payphone receiver. It was after these injuries that McSwiggan was taken to the hospital where the original Instagram photo was taken.
His bail was set at $20,000 and he was charged with a count of vandalism for damaging the vehicle.
3. He Does Not Appear Visually Injured In His Booking Photo
In order to back up their claim that McSwiggan hurt himself while in police custody, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department pointed to the fact that McSwiggan does not appear to be visibly injured in his booking photo. They say this picture was taken prior to McSwiggan being transferred to the hospital, according to People.
On Wednesday, police charged him with filing a false police report.
McSwiggan was initially reluctant to speak about the charges, but he released a full statement on Wednesday afternoon responding to the police’s claims. In this statement, he says that he hit himself with the phone at the police station because he was extremely upset about the situation, in particular about the fact that his father was going to have to pay $20,000 to bail him out. He also says that he was not being permitted to speak to a medical professional or to a lawyer, and so he injured himself in order to get to a hospital.
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
Later in the post, McSwiggan says he spoke to a psychiatrist at the hospital, who said that hurting himself was the best thing he could have done in that situation.
McSwiggan also responded to the mugshot, writing, “Just because there were no visible marks on my face does not mean I was not attacked.” He says that in the alleged assault, three of his teeth were broken, but the rest of the injuries occurred elsewhere on his body and so would not be visible in the photo.
He says the forehead wound that required stitches is the one that was self-inflicted and occurred after the booking photo was taken.
4. Mcswiggan Says He Damaged His Attacker’s Car Out of Anger
Mcswiggan’s initial arrest was for vandalism, and this is the crime he was charged with on Monday. In his statement on Wednesday, Mcswiggan did not deny that he damaged the car. However, he says that the car belonged to his attacker and that he lashed out at it in anger.
“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 wrote. “I also scratched the front of the car with the broken wing mirror before returning back to The Abbey for help.”
He claims that when he first spoke to police, he told them about everything that happened including that he had damaged the vehicle. Mcswiggan says that an officer told him, “I’m sorry, but I have no choice but to do this” before handcuffing him and putting him in the back of the cop car. He also says this officer apologized to him and said they did not believe he had been attacked because there were no injuries on his face.
5. Mcswiggan’s Friends Back Up His Story
On the evening of the incident, Mcswiggan says he was with three of his friends and fellow YouTubers: Riyadh Khalaf, Melanie Murphy and Doug Armstrong, all three of whom appear to be fully backing his version of events.
On Twitter, Khalaf declined to issue a full statement after Mcswiggan’s false report charge, but he did say that his friend did not fake the incident. However, Khalaf clarified that he did not witness the alleged attack take place; in Mcswiggan’s statement, he says he and Khalaf had separated earlier in the evening but that he called Khalaf on the phone after the attack.
In a statement on her Facebook page, Melanie Murphy says she was with Mcswiggan at The Abbey on Sunday evening; she also did not witness the incident, but she says that Khalaf ran up to her saying that Mcswiggan had called crying and saying he had been attacked. Murphy noted that she has her Snapchats from the night saved and that there should be a record of her phone call with Khalaf.
“So we weren’t there during the attack, but it happened in a very public car park, so we’re certain there’ll be CCTV footage, and we believe him,” Murphy wrote.
Murphy also claims that after Mcswiggan was taken to the police station, she and her friends witnessed three men approaching the car who were acting very erratically. She says she took footage of one of the men and that Mcswiggan later stated he is 99% sure this was the attacker. Finally, Murphy supported the idea of her friend harming himself to get out of the cell, saying that he didn’t want his parents to pay for bail and that he has claustrophobia.
Doug Armstrong has not released a full statement, but he linked to Murphy’s Facebook post and said that she is 100% correct.