BELLINGHAM - A Bellingham man says he's sorry for drunkenly harassing a lesbian couple last year outside a Bellingham bar.
William Adam Lane, 22, yelled gay slurs and expletives at the women after seeing them kiss early Dec. 11, 2011. The victims, ages 23 and 30, kept walking toward The Underground bar on East Chestnut Street. They ignored him - until he punched out the rear window of the younger woman's silver Toyota Scion.
The Scion owner chased Lane about a block down the street and tackled him. She pinned him down until police showed up.
Lane says he awoke a few hours later in a holding cell with no memory of how he got there. But he remembered being drunk. Very drunk. "Obliterated," as he put it. Shards of glass were buried deep in his knuckles. He had a pulsing hangover and his fists were bleeding. He figured he must have gotten into a fight.
Lane posted $2,000 bond but didn't find out until a couple days later, when he got a call from a friend asking if he had read the newspaper, that he'd been accused of a hate crime.
"I just felt shame, and disbelief that this is my life," Lane said. "Being accused of a hate crime kind of labels you as - I don't know, some kind of white supremacist or something. That's not me."
The story was picked up by MSNBC, Jezebel.com and LGBT bloggers around the country, many of whom labeled it an example of lesbians fighting back against bullies.
Lane was sentenced last week to a year in jail with all but one month suspended. The felony hate crime charges were dropped in a plea deal. He admitted guilt to third-degree malicious mischief, a misdemeanor. Lane hasn't served the sentence yet, but has paid $461.97 for damage to the Scion.
Lane agreed to talk with a reporter because of the regret he's felt ever since. He insisted what he said that night doesn't reflect his feelings about gays and lesbians. Lane wrote an apologetic letter to the women, but never got an answer.
"I wouldn't want to talk to me, either," he said. "(But) I am truly sorry. I'm not sure words could express it."
Veronica Briggs, the older victim, said she never got the letter, probably because she moved to California in February.
"The whole situation caught me really off guard," Briggs said, "because Bellingham is really gay-friendly."
Lane, for his part, said it caught him off guard, too, and that he's still trying to wrap his head around what made him lash out. It was "so out of character," he said. He has close family members who are gay. They were ashamed.
The silver lining is that he's shown some progress in his alcohol treatment. He said he's been sober since May.
Briggs isn't sure if Lane has some hatred, deep down, for gay people. But if he's sincere in his apology, she's willing to accept it.
"We all make mistakes," Briggs said. "As long as he apologizes and pays for the damage, that's enough."
Reach CALEB HUTTON at email@example.com or call 715-2276.