Pierce County prosecutors today charged a 71-year-old man with second-degree assault and malicious harassment for allegedly hitting a woman with a steering-wheel locking device following what is being described as a road-rage incident with gay-bashing overtones.
William Zesbaugh pleaded not guilty. He was ordered jailed in lieu of $10,000 bail.
The incident occurred about noon Monday, prosecutors said.
Zesbaugh was driving north on Pearl Street in Tacoma near the state ferry terminal when the woman apparently cut him off in traffic. Zesbaugh then followed her car very closely while honking his horn, court records show. Zesbaugh’s car collided with the woman’s car when she stopped at a stop sign. He told police that was an accident.
“When the victim approached the defendant’s car and asked for his insurance information, he went to his trunk and took out a ‘Club’ steering-wheel lock,” according to a news release issued by prosecutors. “Realizing he was going to strike her, the victim held up her arm to block the assault.”
Zesbaugh allegedly hit her more than once before a state ferry worker intervened, court records show. The victim suffered a deep gash to her forearm.
After putting the “Club” back in his trunk, Zesbaugh allegedly told the victim and her passenger, “I know you’re lesbians. I should beat the crap out of you.”
He drove away but was later stopped by Ruston and Tacoma police and arrested.
According to court records, Zesbaugh told officers, “I should have hit her a lot harder if I’m going to get in trouble for it.”