October trial date set for Boone man accused of leaving anti-LGBTQ notes on residents' doors

Isabella Rosario
Ames Tribune

A Boone man accused of leaving notes saying "burn that gay flag" taped to residents' doors this summer will stand trial next month.

Robert Clark Geddes, 25, is charged with five counts of trespass with intent to commit a hate crime. An order to extend the time for discovery Monday moved the jury trial to begin at 9 a.m. Oct. 5 at the Boone County Courthouse. The trial was previously scheduled to begin Sept. 14.

Four identical criminal complaints allege Geddes "entered upon the property of the victim without the permission of the owner(s) and with the intent to commit a hate crime." The four notes were all reported within an hour of each other June 19, the complaints say, noting "consistent handwriting, matching paper tear marks, and marker bleed-through on each page."

In a news release June 20, Boone police said all the targeted homes "had flags or door mats supporting LGBTQ (people)" and that the notes "spoke in opposition of this support only and were not threatening in nature."

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Resident April Burch previously told the Ames Tribune she did not have a pride flag outside her home when the note was left, but she did have a sign that said, "We believe...love is love." After she and her husband discussed the incident with their children, they agreed to display a pride flag at the front of their house.

Resident Krystal Cox said that, while she supports LGBTQ people, she had just bought the rainbow doormat on her front step because she "thought it was cute." Cox said she disagreed with the police statement that the notes were not threatening.

"Having someone in broad daylight come onto your property and leave a note like that, it is rattling," Cox said. "I know that officers have their own language for ... identifying the severity of a threat, but to say that it was non-threatening, I think, isn't an opinion that they can have. It definitely did scare people."

Boone City Council member Elijah Stines, who has a pride flag at the front of his house, also received one of the handwritten notes. At the June 21 City Council meeting, Stines read a resolution stating that Boone "stands in solidarity with its LGBTQ population and condemns any threats, harassment, intimidation and violence against them."

"There are many, many more people that are completely accepting and welcoming of our LGBTQ community in Boone and that will come to aid them whenever necessary, than (there are people) in opposition to them," Stines previously told the Ames Tribune.

But that resolution, which was considered at a meeting the next week, was tabled after city attorney Jim Robbins said it could compromise Geddes' trial.

"Whether you like what the defendant did or didn't do, he's entitled to a fair trial," Robbins said July 5. "In essence, by passing that resolution, you are condemning that individual."

New FBI data suggest hate crimes based on sexual orientation decreased slightly last year, but crimes based on bias against trans and gender-nonconforming people increased.

The Hate Crime Statistics 2020 report found there were 1,051 hate crime incidents motivated by sexual orientation in 2020, down from 1,195 in 2019. Hate crime incidents motivated by gender identity increased from 198 in 2019 to 236 in 2020. 

Data on hate crimes is often incomplete, experts say, as law enforcement agencies collect, categorize and submit such information voluntarily.

Each of Geddes' hate crime charges are serious misdemeanors, which are punishable by up to a year in jail.

Isabella Rosario is a public safety reporter for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at irosario@gannett.com or on Twitter at @irosarioc.