Orlando Sentinel

In a shocking new twist in the FAMU scandal, the parents of a student who was beaten to death in November have revealed that their son was gay.

Robert Champion Jr.'s mother said that her son wasn't defined by his sexual orientation. "He was just defined as being a child going to school, trying to get an education," Pam Champion told CBS News.

The family's attorney, Chris Chestnut, said he spoke to 10 potential witnesses who said that Champion's sexual orientation and vocal opposition to hazing were the main reasons he was beaten. "It may or may not have been" his sexual orientation that saw him singled out, Chestnut told CBS News.

The 26-year-old drum major was allegedly pummeled by his bandmates on Nov. 19, 2011. "There's no way around it. It was wrong," his mother told CBS News. While no one has been charged with the crime, police have ruled it a homicide.

The Champions have said that they will sue Florida A&M, and next week they also intend to sue the band's charter-bus company.


This new information adds another layer to the case. Champion's murder will now be looked upon as a possible hate crime. The parents should have divulged this fact two months ago, not now. But they may have kept quiet because of the black Southern community's often negative attitudes toward gays. It will be interesting to see the turn this case takes now.

Read more at CBS News.