Gay man seeks to make criminal-justice system ‘user-friendly’

Gay man seeks to make criminal-justice system ‘user-friendly’

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Richard Gliniak’s priority as one of the members of the new Crime Victims’ Advisory Committee is to help make Philadelphia’s criminal-justice system more user-friendly, particularly for LGBT people.

The retired schoolteacher, who’s openly gay, said he was victimized by ongoing acts of anti-LGBT harassment committed by two of his next-door neighbors about 15 years ago.

“I want to take an awful hate-crime experience that lasted two years — and the knowledge that I gained from that experience — and use it to help improve the system,” said Gliniak, 56.

His then-neighbors hurled anti-LGBT slurs and death threats at him on a near-daily basis, he said. Additionally, one of the neighbors spat on him and vandalized his car and home on multiple occasions. “It was two years of hell,” Gliniak said.

One of the neighbors was eventually arrested and sentenced to a lengthy prison term.

Gliniak continues to live in the same South Philadelphia rowhome where his victimization occurred, and it’s still difficult for him to discuss the experience.

Gliniak said he’s keeping an open mind regarding the specific issues CVAC should address. But he expressed hope that the committee will review the private criminal-complaint program in Philadelphia. The program allows a private citizen to file a criminal complaint against an alleged offender in the event the D.A.’s Office won’t file charges. But the process can be lengthy and expensive.

“I would hope the committee would look at the private criminal-complaint process and whether it’s LGBT-sensitive — because in my case, I did not feel that it was,” Gliniak said.

He lauded the composition of the committee, which includes people from a varied backgrounds. “I think that each of our experiences can go a long way in making the criminal-justice system more user-friendly,” he said. 

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