July 29, 2020 at 2:16 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Trans woman targeting gay bar patrons for assault: witnesses
Sissy Gracie, gay news, Washington Blade
Sissy Gracie was arrested for allegedly threatening to kill a gay man outside the D.C. gay bar Larry’s Lounge.

A 30-year-old transgender woman who was arrested earlier this month for allegedly threatening to kill a gay man outside the D.C. gay bar Larry’s Lounge on June 9 after he refused her request for money has been targeting bar and restaurant patrons for assault and harassment in the 17th Street and 18th Street business corridors near Dupont Circle for the past several months, according to several sources familiar with the incidents.

Witnesses say the trans woman, Sissy Gracie, tells people she approaches that she is raising money for the D.C. LGBTQ community services center Casa Ruby and urges them – sometimes under great pressure – to make their “donation” in cash or by credit card through a credit card scanner linked to her cell phone.

Ruby Corado, founder and CEO of Casa Ruby, has posted messages on Facebook saying Gracie neither works for nor has been designated as a fundraiser for Casa Ruby and appears to be fraudulently pocketing large sums of money she receives from unsuspecting donors.

“If people want to give her money, that’s their business,” Corado told the Washington Blade. “My issue is that she is using violent behavior and that is reflecting on Casa Ruby.”

Corado and others familiar with Gracie say they have learned from members of the community that D.C. police have arrested her several times in recent weeks for threatening or assaulting people mostly in the 17th Street restaurant and bar strip between R and P Streets, N.W.

Police arrest records show she was arrested on July 19 outside the 17th Street gay bar JR.’s for allegedly assaulting JR.’s bartender and bar back Gideon Blum. Blum told the Blade that Gracie intentionally struck him with a Segway motorized scooter on which she was riding in an outdoor area on Church Street, N.W. where JR.’s has placed tables and chairs for customer seating.

Blum said a witness told him and D.C. police that Gracie was facing in a different direction but when she saw Blum she turned the two-wheeled Segway scooter around and drove it directly into Blum, knocking him over. He said he managed to just barely fall in a direction away from a grill used for cooking hot dogs and hamburgers. Had he landed on the grill he would have suffered serious burns, he told the Blade.

A D.C. police report of the incident says police charged her with a single count of simple assault.

Another D.C. police report obtained by the Blade says that in response to a call from a citizen who had learned from social media postings that Gracie may have been experiencing mental health problems, police detained her on July 24 on the 1900 block of 14th Street, N.W. The report says police notified the Crisis Response Team associated with the D.C. Department of Behavioral Health’s Comprehensive Psychological Evaluation Program.

 According to the police report, Crisis Response Team members arrived at the scene and a decision was made to take Gracie to a facility operated by the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program “for further evaluation and treatment.” A spokesperson for the Department of Behavioral Health said the department never comments on specific cases of people under its care due to privacy restrictions. However, people who know Gracie said she was seen on 17th Street two days later, indicating DBH officials released her shortly after conducting a mental health evaluation.

Wayde Taylor, the Larry’s Lounge customer who told D.C. police Gracie threatened to kill him during the June 9 incident, told the Blade this week that Gracie approached him again on Sunday, July 26, while he was sitting at an outdoor table at the 17th Street restaurant Brick Lane and threatened him a second time in violation of a court approved order to stay away from him while awaiting trial for the June 9 case.

“She threatened me after getting out of an Uber,” Taylor said. “She made a slit throat gesture,” while looking directly at him, he told the Blade. Taylor said he immediately called D.C. police, who arrived on the scene within minutes and arrested Gracie after he informed police of the stay away order.

Gracie’s arrest for threatening Taylor for the second time came less than a week after gay bartender Dito Sevilla told the Blade that police arrested Gracie near Floriana’s restaurant on 17th Street where Sevilla works after he said she assaulted him.

Taylor, meanwhile, said to his dismay he learned this week that Gracie was back on 17th Street the day after police arrested her for threatening him a second time, indicating a judge or prosecutors decided not to hold her in custody.

Court records obtained by the Blade show that although witnesses and D.C. police records show Gracie has been arrested at least three times in the past few weeks, there were no records filed in D.C. Superior Court for any of those arrests except the one for the June 9 threats against Taylor at Larry’s Lounge.

A spokesperson for the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which prosecutes criminal cases in D.C., did not respond to a request from the Blade for an explanation of why the U.S. Attorney’s Office had not prosecuted Gracie for the other arrests.

Blum said he has been cooperating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and didn’t know why the office had not filed charges against Gracie in court in connection with his case.

Charles Haskell, a court appointed attorney representing Gracie, had not returned a call from the Blade as of late Tuesday offering him and Gracie an opportunity to respond to the allegations against Gracie.

Court records identify Gracie by her legal birth name and show that she was living at the time of her arrest for the June 9 incident at an address in Southwest Washington that is the location of the city’s King Greenleaf Recreation Center at 201 N St., S.W. A list of the city’s emergency shelters shows that the King Greenleaf facility has been used as a nighttime emergency shelter for homeless people.

In an incident unrelated to the 17th and 18th Street incidents, the Daily Caller, a conservative media outlet, on June 23 released a video showing Gracie running toward D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton on Black Lives Matter Plaza, where Norton was being interviewed by NBC News anchor Andrea Mitchell. The video shows a man standing near Norton jumping into Gracie’s path, appearing to block her from running into or assaulting Norton. The video shows the man grabbing Gracie and forcibly pulling her away from Norton, who looked startled.

There are no records in D.C. Superior Court or the U.S. District Court for D.C. of an arrest of Gracie for attempting to harm Norton in Norton’s role as a member of Congress, which would be a federal offense.

In response to an inquiry from the Blade asking Norton’s office if Norton knew whether or why Gracie may have been attempting to harm Norton, the office sent the Blade a one-sentence statement from Norton. “I believe this person was simply attracted by the cameras,” Norton’s statement said.

She was referring to at least two TV cameras on pedestals located next to where Norton and Mitchell were standing that could be seen in the video released by the Daily Caller.

An affidavit in support of Gracie’s arrest for the Larry’s Lounge incident filed in D.C. Superior Court says Gracie threatened complainant Wayde Taylor after Taylor told her he knew she did not work for Casa Ruby.

The affidavit says Gracie had been telling customers seated in the Larry’s Lounge patio that she was associated with Casa Ruby and was raising money for the organization. “The complainant stated that when the defendant asked for money he refused and confronted her by saying that she does not actually work for Casa Ruby in front of patrons,” the affidavit says.

“The defendant then stated that she was going to wait outside for the complainant to leave the bar and kill him,” the affidavit says, adding that the defendant, referring to Taylor, called 911 seeking help from police. Court records show that following a police investigation, Gracie was arrested for the incident on July 6 on a charge of attempting to make threats to do bodily harm.

Corado told the Blade that Gracie came to Casa Ruby as a potential client last year during the winter before any of the allegations of her making threats and assaulting people in the Dupont Circle area surfaced. Corado said it was a one-time visit and Gracie has not returned to Casa Ruby since that time.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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