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Alleged torture of lesbian woman roils Nebraska capital

People gather on the west steps of the Capitol, in Lincoln, Neb., on Sunday during a vigil for a woman who was allegedly attacked in her home early in the morning.
People gather on the west steps of the Capitol, in Lincoln, Neb., on Sunday during a vigil for a woman who was allegedly attacked in her home early in the morning.TED KIRK/Lincoln Journal Star

A woman in Nebraska says she was tied up and mutilated in what many are calling a hate crime, according to local reports.

Police in Lincoln, Neb., are investigating the case of a 33-year-old woman who told police three men wearing ski masks broke into her home early Sunday, bound her wrists and ankles with zip ties, beat her and carved anti-gay slurs into her arms and abdomen.

The men also allegedly spray painted a derogatory term for lesbians inside the home and poured gasoline around the house before lighting it with a match. The fire caused no noticeable damage to the house, a city fire inspector said.

The woman said she managed to escape and knocked on a neighbor’s door for help.

“My neighbor was standing there, and she had no clothes on,” Linda Rappl, 68, told NBC affiliate WOWT in Omaha, Neb. “Her hands had been tied with zip ties, and the first thing I saw was blood running down her face.”

Rappl said the sobbing woman had cuts all over her torso, arms and face. Rappl said she brought her neighbor inside and wrapped her in a blanket before calling 911.

Police officials said they wouldn't offer many details concerning the investigation, citing the need to maintain the integrity of the case, but Lincoln police spokeswoman Katie Flood told the Lincoln Journal Star that investigators have no suspects.

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Tyler Richard, president of Outlinc, a nonprofit organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community in Lincoln, told NBC News that the woman lives openly as a lesbian.

On Sunday night, more than 500 people held a vigil outside the state Capitol, organized by friends of the woman, many of whom are part of the LGBT community.

Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler and others denounced the attack as a hate crime.

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“Hate crimes are despicable and appalling to me and to all Lincoln residents,” Beutler said in a statement. “Lincoln strives to be a community that embraces tolerance and equality. We stand united with our gay and lesbian citizens in denouncing violence directed at any group.”

“There were things carved on her body that can only be described as hate that somebody can only be taught and we need to stop teaching it,” a friend of the woman’s told WOWT.

Richard told NBC News that Outlinc has full faith in the Lincoln Police Department, citing the agency’s long history of support for the city's LGBT community.

The attack in Lincoln happened about two months after Lincoln officials approved a measure to protect gay and transgendered residents from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. 

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