An anti-gay vandal who committed a hate crime in the popular Crest Cafe restaurant in Hillcrest in 2021 has been sentenced to 273 days in jail he has already served.
Cameron James, 43, of North Park, pleaded guilty Jan. 6 to misdemeanor battery with a hate crime allegation and to interfering with a business in the July 24, 2021, incident.
The Crest Cafe recently celebrated its 40th anniversary on Robinson Avenue. It is like other businesses in Hillcrest with pride flags and other LGBTQ symbols displayed.
James targeted an employee and used gay slurs. He knocked over tables and chairs, and hit the victim with a chair, according to the City Attorney’s office.
James drew a swastika on a window and made a threat. Police arrived and arrested James, who appeared to be intoxicated.
The judge who heard James’ case on Jan. 6 was none other than Bonnie Dumanis, the former District Attorney and retired Superior Court judge who is also lesbian herself.
“She (Dumanis) was here as part of the Chief Justice’s temporary assigned judge’s programs,” said Superior Court spokeswoman Emily Cox on Monday.
The Chief Justice has a program to assign temporary judges from a list of retired judges to cover vacancies, illnesses, calendar congestion in the courts. Temporary judges are paid 92% of the salary of judges.
After James pleaded guilty to two counts, Dumanis dismissed other charges including possession of methamphetamine and interference with the victim’s civil rights, according to court records.
Because of his convictions, James is barred from owning or possessing firearms, records say.
“An assault on our LGBTQ+ community is an assault on all of us,” said City Attorney Mara Elliott in a statement.
“This conviction sends a strong message that hateful speech and violent behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Elliott.
“Everyone deserves to be safe in their own community and free from abuse,” said Elliott.
The City Attorney’s office has prosecuted more than 23 hate crime cases as misdemeanors in the past three years. Elliott said her office can be reached at (619) 236-6220.
Hate crimes can also be charged as felonies by the District Attorney’s office in cases involving shootings, stabbings, and fights involving broken bones.
People can report hate crimes to the San Diego Police Department by calling their 24-hour number for non-emergency calls and general information at (619) 531-2000. If you have an 858 area code, you can call (858) 484-3154.
A crime report can be filed online at https://www.sandiego.gov/police/services/file-police-report.
The City Attorney’s website on hate crimes is https://www.sandiego.gov/cityattorney/resources/say-no-to-hate.