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Tue May 12, 2020, 08:48 AM

An American student was thrown from a cliff in 1988. Now, Australian police have arrested a suspect.

Asia & Pacific

An American student was thrown from a cliff in 1988. Now, Australian police have arrested a suspect.

By A. Odysseus Patrick
May 12, 2020 at 8:33 a.m. EDT

SYDNEY — Australian police arrested a man Tuesday in connection with the killing 32 years ago of an American university student whose death came to symbolize an indifference in Australian culture toward violence against gay people. ... Scott Johnson, a 27-year-old PhD math student who had studied at the California Institute of Technology and Britain’s University of Cambridge, was thrown from a Sydney cliff, naked, in 1988 in an anti-gay hate crime, a coroner in New South Wales state ruled two years ago. ... At the time of the initial investigation, police failed to take the case seriously and decided that Johnson had killed himself, even though he had shown no signs of depression, had not left a suicide note and his wallet was missing. ... Johnson’s brother, Steve Johnson, began a three-decade campaign to persuade authorities to reopen the case.

Today, Sydney has a thriving and prominent gay community. Police officers march in the city’s annual Mardi Gras parade. ... In the 1980s, however, packs of young men roamed popular meeting places for gay men, intending to beat and rob them. Gay men were told to carry whistles to call for help if they were attacked. ... As hate crime laws expand, who to exclude as victims? ... Victims were often too scared to complain to police. The officers sent to examine Johnson’s body did not have backgrounds in homicide investigations. They refused to believe that the top of the cliff above where Johnson was found, known for panoramic views of Sydney Harbor, could be a gay beat.


Faced with pressure from the Johnson family and evidence that police had ignored endemic violence against Sydney’s gay community for years, in 2018 the New South Wales police force offered a reward of 1 million Australian dollars (about $650,000 at today’s exchange rates) for information about Johnson’s death. ... Two months ago, Steve Johnson, a former vice president at Internet pioneer AOL, matched the offer.

On Tuesday, in the prosperous Sydney suburb of Lane Cove, police officers from a task force set up to investigate the killing arrested a 49-year-old man and later charged him with murder. He is expected to appear in court Wednesday. Police have not disclosed his name.


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Reply An American student was thrown from a cliff in 1988. Now, Australian police have arrested a suspect. (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves May 2020 OP
Behind the Aegis May 2020 #1

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed May 13, 2020, 02:36 PM

1. Good!

Took long enough!!

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