Gay victim of Rock Hill mob attack accused of assaulting roommate

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comDecember 9, 2013 

Joshua Esskew

HERALD FILE PHOTO

— The gay Rock Hill man whose 2011 assault by a mob sparked national outrage and prompted calls for stricter hate crime laws is wanted after deputies say he punched a woman in her face last week.

Warrants have been issued on Joshua Kelly Esskew, 22, that will charge him with third-degree assault and battery, according to a York County Sheriff’s report. He has been on probation since last year after he pleaded guilty to obtaining prescription drugs by fraud.

Last Thursday, deputies met with a woman, 24, at the BP gas station at the intersection of Lesslie Highway and South Anderson Road after receiving calls about a fight in the road, the report states. Deputies found the woman inside. She was crying and talking to someone on the phone. She told the deputy that she was fine, although her roommate, Esskew, hit her.

She told authorities that Esskew had been drinking while giving her a ride, the report states. She chastised him for drinking, so Esskew stopped the car and told her to get out. He then punched her in the mouth, leaving her with a busted lip, the report states. He went inside the store, the report states, but deputies could not find him. Warrants were issued for his arrest.

By Monday, Esskew had not been arrested, said Sheriff’s Office spokesman Trent Faris. His last known address is on Lige Street in Rock Hill’s city limits.

On April 9, 2011, five men beat Esskew outside the Spot Convenience Store on Cherry Road. He was glassed in the face, kicked and punched several times before he fell unconscious --all because, he claimed, he “walked gay.” Charges against two of the accused attackers were dismissed, but the three others have been sentenced for their crimes.

Since the mob assault, Esskew had been charged with stealing a credit card from a worker at a church in downtown Rock Hill and making several fraudulent charges. He pleaded guilty and was placed on probation, which was revoked when he failed to report several times. Two months later, he was charged with stealing painkillers from a CVS pharmacy. He pleaded guilty last October, but was sentenced to time served.

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