Evidence being presented in the trial for prominent Democratic Party donor Ed Buck is so disturbing that the judge in the case has suggested that providing post-trauma counseling to jurors may be necessary.
The details provided in court by way of thousands of videos and photographs suggest a wealthy man enlivened by the suffering of others–particularly homeless men with nothing to lose but their lives.
According to the evidence and witness testimony presented during the first five days of his federal trial, Buck had a sexual fetish for “party and play” sessions where he would pay homeless men to smoke and/or inject as much methamphetamine as they could stand before dying. At least twice, those dangerous games turned deadly.
As Law&Crime previously reported, 26-year-old Gemmel Moore and 55-year-old Timothy Dean were found dead of methamphetamine overdoses at Buck’s Laurel Avenue apartment in West Hollywood in 2017 and 2019, respectively. Both men were Black and gay.
In September 2019, Buck was arrested and charged in the Central District of California after a third man overdosed at his home.
A superseding indictment was filed by federal prosecutors in August 2020 which alleges numerous separate state and federal crimes. Two counts were filed in connection with the deaths of Dean and Moore. Buck was also charged with myriad additional counts of distributing methamphetamine that did not result in death, renting an apartment for the purpose of administering methamphetamine, clonazepam, and gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) to his alleged victims as well as two state prostitution charges. He had pleaded not guilty to all counts.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detectives claim to have uncovered some 2,400 videos from Buck’s digital devices–allegedly 1,500 of which document his party-and-play sessions, LASD Sergeant Paul Cardella testified, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Stare directly into the camera, flare your nostrils and blow it out slowly,” Buck told one of his alleged victims in one such video. “Now, if you add wide-open eyes to that, it would be a perfect shot.”
Other videos depict a cavalcade of the macabre and illegal.
In one video, Buck can be allegedly seen getting high with Moore as he man tells Buck, “I don’t know if I can handle another slam,” using common slang for injecting methamphetamine. Buck allegedly pressured Moore to repeatedly inject the substance–a much more dangerous method of using the drug compared to simply smoking and inhaling; Moore eventually pushed back.
Other witnesses testified that Buck serially pressured them into injecting the crude version of speed (and others) as well.
The longtime progressive activist, candidate for elected office and major Democratic Party donor who was close with Hillary Clinton would allegedly grow irritated when his sex workers refused to inject drugs. One man testified that, after repeatedly refusing to “slam,” he woke up to Buck injecting him in his elbow pit without his consent.
“How did you feel when that was happening?” Assistant U.S. attorney Lindsay Bailey asked a man the LA Times identified using just his first name–as a matter of policy regarding alleged sexual abuse victims.
“Violated,” Carlos responded.
“I was out cold,” a different man texted Buck following an alleged drugging. “What happened to me? Or what did you do?”
In another video, dated September 2016, Buck can be seen sexually manipulating Moore’s body while he’s asleep or unconscious.
Carlos and others who say they were paid and abused by Buck testified that they were more than well aware of Moore.
“I don’t need another dead N on my couch,” Carlos testified that Buck once remarked–apparently in fear that his rental might use GHB with alcohol, an often fatal combination, even in small amounts.
A Black man identified as Anthony also told jurors that Buck “would use the N word.” Anthony, a friend of Moore’s, also said he was pressured by Buck into injecting methamphetamine but declined.
The point, each time, witnesses testified–no matter which drug was on offer–was to get the men he obtained into something like a stupor so that they couldn’t refuse his advances.
Anthony told the jury that Buck wanted him “in a Zombie-like state so he could do anything he wanted with me.”
“He liked to see me where I was barely able to stand, barely conscious,” Carlos testified. “He wanted me to be falling around all over the place…he would be able to do whatever he liked as far as touching and everything of that sort.”
For the drug-fueled dalliances Buck allegedly engaged in with dozens of young Black men, Buck is said to have paid a few hundred dollars. The fee was often less if the men refused to inject.
“The evidence is going to show that these grown men made a conscious decision to go to Ed Buck’s apartment for whatever reason,” former O.J. Simpson prosecutor and current defense attorney Christopher Darden said during his opening statement. He insists his client is on trial “for conduct that millions of people engage in.”
Regardless of the agency employed by those men, the testimony and evidence of what went on behind the closed doors of Buck’s dilapidated drug den has rocked the courtroom overseen by U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder, who expressed concern for the wellbeing of jurors.
“It may well be that we offer counseling to them at the end of the case,” she recently said.
[image via screengrab/TV ONE]
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