American billionaire, one time candidate for West Hollywood’s City Council and political donor for the Democratic party Ed Buck has been found guilty of charges that he injected gay men with methamphetamine in exchange for sex, leading to two deaths and other overdoses.
The first of these deaths took place in 2017, with his first victim identified as 26 year old Gemmel Moore, his second victim, identified as 55 year Timothy Dean died in 2019 from a similar overdose. Yet, it took police a further nine months and the near-death of another overdose victim, before Buck was finally arrested in September 2019.
Buck’s trial took place over two weeks in July. A federal jury took some four hours to deliberate, eventually convicting the 66-year-old on all of the nine felony counts including the distribution of methamphetamine resulting in death. The Jury’s verdict could ultimately lead to Buck to being sentenced to life behind bars.
Bittersweet For Families Of Victims
However, the result has been described as “bittersweet” for the families and loved ones of Buck’s victims, who have campaigned for justice for over four years now, with many pointing to the obvious racial undertones and power imbalance which underpin his crimes.
“It was an uphill battle just because he was a white man who had money,” Jasmyne Cannick, a political strategist and advocate for the victims’ families told the LA Times “Even if you take the ‘Democratic donor’ part out of it, you have a white man who lives in West Hollywood, and you have these Black victims who are sex workers. The scale is immediately uneven.”
“If these were a bunch of white women, it wouldn’t have gotten this far,” Cannick added.
The mother of Buck’s first victim, LaTisha Nixon, told KTLA5 following the guilty verdict that “four years ago, I got the worst news that I ever could’ve imagined. But today, four years later, I got the best news that I ever could’ve imagined. This is what we wanted from the beginning. He can’t hurt anybody else. That’s all we wanted,”
Nixon added “My son was more than an ‘escort,’ more than a ‘prostitute,’ as many of you guys said. This is my baby. My son. He was a human being, and he was loved by lots of people.”
While three of Buck’s victims have been identified, the true extent of his crimes is as yet unknown, with investigators believing there are at least 10 other victims that fell prey to his crimes. In fact, then-LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey refused to investigate the allegations levelled against Buck until a third victim had surfaced.
‘No One Believed Victims’
According to investigators after injecting the men with methamphetamine, many would become unconscious or unable to move while Buck sexually tortured them, with one victim describing how he was shot with a tranquilizer before being chased by Buck with a power saw when he tried to escape.
Another has described how he was injected with a “tar like substance” waking up sometime later in hospital with anal bleeding.
What has also angered many is the deafening silence to which Buck’s crimes have been met with from those who have gained politically due to both his activism and donations.
However, Paul Kortez, a former West Hollywood city councilman, described it as a “frustrating implication” that Buck was not prosecuted for so long because he was a contributor to Democratic campaigns, believing instead that Buck “got away with it for a while because no one could believe it.”
One of Buck’s victims, known only as “Brown” who alleges to have lived with Buck for six weeks during 2019, and was injected with meth by him daily, told news reporters following the courts verdict “Don’t forget about us. I’m not a sex worker. I may have been an addict. But these people need to be heard, and these people need to be helped. Listen to them when they have a story. Believe them when they need help.”