A trans woman in Flagstaff defended herself from an attack. She's now facing felony charges.
A trans woman was allegedly assaulted and harassed by at least four men. After she defended herself, police arrested her.
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A trans woman in Flagstaff who was allegedly harassed and sexually assaulted by multiple men is facing two aggravated assault charges after defending herself against her attackers, her lawyer and local activists said.
On August 11, Epona Rose, 34, was attacked “by a group of three men while two or more watched. The men were drunk and sexually harassing her,” said a press release from activists working to free Rose from the Coconino County Detention Facility. “The attack escalated into threats of rape, and then to physical violence, when they realized that Epona is transgender.”
The release said that Rose defended herself against the attacks, but was the only one arrested or charged.
Rose was “touched sexually without her consent," said her lawyer Ryan Stevens in a court filing. "She was subjected to transphobic statements. She was vulnerable, unsafe, and alone among a group of four or five men. Her actions were limited to the unique situation in which she found herself as a woman of trans experience.”
There is no public record yet available that has released the names of the men Rose allegedly defended herself from. A voicemail was left with the Coconino County Attorney's Office after work hours.
Rose was charged with two felonies and three misdemeanors, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct, according to online court records.
What happened to Rose that night is not clear, since police reports and probable cause affidavits were not made readily available to LOOKOUT through a public records request made on Tuesday afternoon.
But through the organization FreeEponaRose.org, which has raised over $9,000 for Rose's bail and legal fees, she said that, "I defended myself against three men." She also said that the jail has classified her as a male, and that she does not feel safe.
A call to the detention facility did not confirm if she was being held as a male, but online court records show that she is being recorded under her former name, also called a "dead name."
Originally arrested and facing charges of attempted murder, Rose was issued a $500,000 bond, according to court records. A grand jury, instead, indicted her for two felony aggravated assault charges and three misdemeanors.
That bail amount is far out of reach for Rose and her friends, her lawyer said.
"Ms. Rose's current bond is excessively high," Stevens wrote in a recent motion to get her removed from the jail. "She remains in custody solely due to a lack of financial resources."
Bonds are issued to ensure that defendants show up in court, but trans women in other states have been disproportionately effected by excessive bail amounts.
“Our goal is to make sure she’s out, and she’s safe,” Stevens told LOOKOUT.
In Steven's motion to get his client removed from the detention center, he said that Rose is not a flight risk: "Ms. Rose dedicates her life to providing support to marginalized people and communities, including the Native American and transgender communities.”
Last week, protesters and organizers gathered outside the Coconino County Superior Courthouse to demand Rose's release. More than 40 people attended a vigil later that day.
Rose’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 28 at the Superior Courthouse in Flagstaff.