Fact Check

Mallory Owens Beating

Photograph shows a woman named Mallory Owens who was severely beaten because she is a lesbian?

Published Nov 26, 2012

Claim:   Photograph shows a woman named Mallory Owens who was severely beaten because she is a lesbian.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, November 2012]

Wondering if this photo/story about Mallory Owens being targeted as a hate crime against a lesbian is true?

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Origins:   On 25 November 2012, police in Mobile, Alabama, arrested 18-year-old Travis Hawkins, Jr. on charges that he had a few days earlier beaten 23-year-old Mallory Owens so severely that she suffered a fractured jaw and a crushed cheek which may require surgery to repair. According to Mobile television station WPMI, Owens' sister said Mallory was attacked by Hawkins because she is gay:

The family of a Mobile woman badly beaten Thanksgiving night said she became a victim because she was gay.

Travis Hawkins, Jr., 18, is charged with 2nd degree assault in the case. "He came around the corner and hit Mallory and blindsided her, got on top of her and started beating her," Owens' sister Avery Godwin said. According to Godwin, Owens was visiting her girlfriend for

Thanksgiving dinner at the Hawkins home when the attack happened. Owens has been dating Hawkins' sister, Alex, she said.

Godwin added Hawkins did not approve of the relationship and snapped. "He's never liked Mallory because [Alex] is in a relationship with a girl, he has never liked that fact whatsoever."

The beating left Owens with a broken nose, her eyes swollen shut and plates had to be inserted in her cheeks. "When I went in there, it did not look like her," Godwin said, "I don't know what made him snap." Godwin said Hawkins had previously hit Owens with a pipe wrench earlier in the year, but [she] never filed charges. "They had gotten past it and [the Hawkins family] told Mallory they wanted her to come over there and there wasn't going to be any problems and she goes over there and this happens."

Mobile television station WALA similarly reported that Owens' mother asserted Mallory was beaten because she is gay:

The family of Mallory Owens said 18-year-old Travis Hawkins, Jr. targeted her because of her sexual orientation and they want to see the charge for the Nov. 23 beating upgraded to attempted murder.

The incident occurred as Thanksgiving Day turned violent at Hawkins' home on Bourgeois Drive in Mobile. Mobile Police Department said officers responded to the home for a report of a person being assaulted.

When police arrived, they found Owens, 23, had been punched repeatedly in the face.

Owens's mother said her daughter was attacked because of her sexual orientation.

"Oh, yes, I know they don't approve of it. This isn't the first time he has attacked Mallory. This is the second time. The first time he attacked her with a pipe and hit her in the back of the head and on the back a few times. People stepped in to help then," said Kristi Taylor, Owens's mother.

Taylor said this time, no one stepped in to shield her daughter from Hawkins's fist. She believes the Hawkins family stood by and let it happen.

However, the case is still developing, and a definitive motive behind the crime has yet to be ascertained. The victim and the accused's brother have maintained that Owens' sexual orientation was not the reason for the attack and suggested there was a different motive at work:

Owens said she doesn't remember much of that night. However, she said she doesn't think she was attacked because she is gay, despite what her mother Kristi Taylor [said].

"No, it was just a bad night. I honestly don't think that is what he thought, 'Hey, you're gay so I am going to do this to you,'" said Owens.

Ally Hawkins said she doesn't believe her brother attacked Owens because she is gay either.

"No, this is not a hate crime. We both know why it happened. That will come out, but not at this time. It is very humiliating," said Ally Hawkins.

Alex (Ally) Hawkins later said she believed her brother had attacked Mallory Owens because she and Mallory had engaged in drugs and prostitution:

Ally Hawkins [said] she believes Hawkins, Jr. attacked Owens because of previous decisions the couple made involving drugs and sex.

"He found out that me and Mallory had done prostitution,” said Ally. “We were really bad in drugs. The first time we both did it together. And the second time it wasn't like that. But I don't blame her for it all the way because I could have said no."

Owens confirmed Ally Hawkins’ statements about the prostitution and drugs but said that’s between the two of them.

Last updated:   4 December 2012


    Douglas, April.   "Teen Arrested for Assaulting Woman on Thanksgiving Day."

    WALA-TV [Mobile, AL].   26 November 2012.

    Douglas, April.   "Victim Denies Assault Happened Because She Is Gay."

    WALA-TV [Mobile, AL].   27 November 2012.

    Murphy, Candace.   "Mallory Owens Opens Up About Beating, Aftermath."

    WALA-TV [Mobile, AL].   3 December 2012.

    WPMI-TV [Mobile, AL].   "Family: Woman Viciously Beaten Because She Is Gay."

    26 November 2012.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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