Six Lincoln County pastors led a vigil of support at the Lincoln County Courthouse last week for a transgender woman who was the victim of a brutal assault at Agate Beach State Park in Newport Saturday morning after using the women’s restroom at the park. Several other community members were also present.
The victim, Lauren Jackson, who recently began living as female, recently relocated to Oregon. According to a Newport Police report, she had used the women’s restroom at the park and was fixing breakfast when she was assaulted by Fred Joseph Costanza, 37, of Blackfoot, Idaho. He was lodged in the Lincoln County Jail on charges of second-degree assault, menacing, disorderly conduct and menacing and remained in custody as of early Thursday afternoon.
Costanza may also be charged under Oregon’s recently updated bias crimes statue, which added gender identity to the classes protected by the law. Jackson suffered a skull fracture and multiple breaks in her jaw and may be facing additional surgeries.
According to a Go Fund Me page established to help defray the victim’s medical expenses, Costanza’s female companion falsely told him the victim had been harassing her. Multiple witnesses told police that Costanza walked over one hundred yards across the park to confront the victim. They said he hit the victim more than ten times.
As of early Thursday afternoon, the GoFundMe page had generated $3,766 in donations toward a $5,000 goal.
After initially being treated at Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital in Newport, the victim was transported to Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland. She was released from OHSU Wednesday afternoon.
Jackson came to the Lincoln County Courthouse Thursday afternoon to testify at a Grand Jury proceeding. By law, Grand Jury sessions are closed to the public. Before the session, Jackson met some of her local supporters. She had some difficulty in communicating due to her injuries but expressed strong gratitude for the show of community support. She said she has a safe place to stay in Portland for now.
Both the victim’s assistance program and My Sister’s Place and providing support for Jackson.
The pastors who organized today’s gathering said they will announce plans soon for a community vigil against hate.
Claire Elizabeth Hall
Lincoln County Commissioner