An Edgewater woman is accusing a CTA bus driver of watching and laughing as a fellow passenger gay-bashed her outside an "L" station two weeks ago.
Kim Dorband is still waiting for test results that will reveal the extent of the injuries she suffered Aug. 16 as she rode the Foster bus on her way home from work. She is worried that the blows to the head that she suffered will aggravate a pre-existing medical condition.
Dorband caught a later bus than usual that night but followed her usual routine of sitting quietly, reading and listening to her Walkman. She said she was wearing work clothes, freedom rings and a gay-themed hat. Just before her stop, at Foster and Broadway, she rang the buzzer, as usual, and waited for the bus to stop. When the driver didn't pull over, she told him that he'd missed her stop and asked him to pull over.
According to Dorband, the driver got angry, called her a "gay dyke bitch," and refused to stop the bus. She said she couldn't believe her ears as he became increasingly verbally abusive as they neared the Berwyn "L" stop.
When the driver finally did stop the bus, Dorband refused to get off and demanded that the driver call a supervisor. As she stood on the stairs at the front of the bus, she said the driver closed her foot in the door, holding her there. As she stood there, the only other passenger on the bus joined in on the verbal assault of her, calling her a "fat dyke bitch" and yelling that she was holding up the bus.
She said he then got off of the back of the bus and came to the front where she was standing. He jerked her off of the bus and punched her twice in the face, Dorband told Windy City Times.
"My glasses went flying, my Walkman was destroyed," she said. "I've had pain in my eye for a week."
After she went down, he kicked her in the chest and ran into the L station. As she lay on the ground, dazed, Dorband said she looked up and asked the bus driver to call the police. Instead of helping her, though, he laughed and drove away.
Amazed, she went into the "L" station and asked the security guard on duty if he'd seen her attacker run by. He responded that a lot of people run by every day and that he didn't know what she was talking about. By this point, she said she was spitting blood, and when she asked the guard to call the police, he dismissively told her to call herself.
Police arrived and helped get her to the hospital, where she stayed for about two hours. She is still waiting to hear whether the damage done to her eye and head have affected a condition she has called pseudo tumor cerebri, a disorder that causes high blood pressure in the brain.
Police took down a description of the incident for their report but did not include the hate language that her attacker used, a police spokesman said.
The spokesman said the incident is being investigated as a battery and that the civil-rights unit is looking into it. Even if the hate language had been included in the report, however, the spokesman said the incident is unlikely to be categorized as a hate crime.
Under the current hate-crime statute, hate has to the be the primary motive in a crime for charges to be filed. The primary motive in this incident was Dorband's refusal to get off of the bus, police said.
The CTA has launched its own investigation, according to spokeswoman Maria Toscano. She said the CTA is working with police to identify the driver and to consider what action should be taken.
Of the CTA's policy on discrimination, she said, " ( Discrimination is ) just not accepted. We expect all our staff to be professional to all our customers."
Dorband was set to return to work for the first time this week and said she is dreading having to face the CTA again. She doesn't believe the answer is to leave Edgewater, where she has lived for several years.
"I hate like hell to have to move," she said. "This could happen anywhere."
She said education is the key to stopping incidents like this one from happening again. She has been active with the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network, which has been helping her handle the case.
"I just want some peacefulness," she said.