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Cross-dressing man sentenced for battery

A judge says the man convicted of battery, who is awaiting a sex change, could face harsh treatment in state prison.

By GEOFF DOUGHERTY

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 25, 1999


NEW PORT RICHEY -- Patrick Hagan shuffled off to serve his 21/2-year state prison sentence wearing a black-and-pink print dress and a matching pink blouse.

But before he held out his wrists to accept a bailiff's handcuffs, the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Hagan asked for a moment to remove his jewelry.

Off came the earrings and the rings. Hagan struggled with his gold necklace, and a bailiff daintily helped him undo the clasp.

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Patrick Hagan was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. [Times photos: Joseph Garnett Jr.]
And then the bailiff tightened the cuffs around Hagan's wrists and escorted him toward the beginning of what is likely to be a particularly harsh prison term.

Appraising Hagan's appearance before imposing the sentence Friday morning, Circuit Judge Stanley Mills acknowledged that.

"It's not a pretty picture in the state prison system," Mills told Hagan, a cross-dresser who is awaiting sex-change surgery.

Hagan was convicted in July of punching a fellow bar patron in the mouth. The victim, 40-year-old Cheryl Partsch, lost five teeth and could end up paying as much as $60,000 in medical bills.

A jury found Hagan guilty of misdemeanor battery, punishable by up to a year in jail. But Hagan was on probation from a felony illegal dumping conviction at the time, and the recent conviction also meant he had violated his probation, which can be punished with state prison time.

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Cheryl Partsch, who was punched by Hagan, could end up paying as much as $60,000 in medical bills.
The battery occurred in November 1997 at BT's, a Port Richey bar frequented by cross-dressers. Hagan was accused of battering Partsch because she questioned his presence in the women's restroom.

Mills heard testimony in Hagan's sentencing one day late last month and on Friday.

Defense lawyer Robert Attridge argued a prison sentence would be especially difficult for Hagan, given the level of violence in Department of Corrections facilities and the hostility to which cross-dressers often are subjected.

Hagan took the stand to say he punched Partsch in self-defense after she kicked open the door to the bathroom stall he was in.

"I am very sorry this woman got her faced punched," Hagan said. "What happened was a hate crime. I was only defending myself. I am not a violent person."

However, prosecutor Scott Andringa argued Hagan deserved a stiff prison sentence because of his lengthy criminal record, including convictions for burglary, armed robbery, grand theft and dealing in stolen property.

Hagan, a former septic-truck driver and martial arts expert, said he has mellowed since taking hormones in preparation for surgery.

"My emotions and behavior have completely changed since I've gone through my sex change," he said. "Give me the benefit of the doubt."

Friends of Hagan told Mills that the incident at BT's was an aberration.

"She's the kind of person you can call at midnight and say, "My water heater sprung a leak,' and she'd be over to fix it," said Kerry Algiere, who works as a carrier for the St. Petersburg Times.

Hagan's probation officer, Josephine Roberts, testified that she didn't think he should go to prison.

"I had no problem with him," Roberts said. "He was one of my better probationers."

Attridge tried to arrange a sentence that would have allowed Hagan to remain free, working to pay restitution for Partsch's medical bills.

But Andringa said Partsch wasn't interested.

"She would rather see him incarcerated," Andringa said.

Mills rejected Hagan's self-defense argument. Despite the testimony of Hagan's friends, Mills said he had to follow state guidelines that called for a prison sentence.

However, Mills said he would recommend that corrections officials take Hagan's sex-change situation into account when deciding what type of prison to put him in.

"It's going to be a difficult situation, Mr. Hagan," Mills said before ending the hearing.

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