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Woman says she didn't taunt cross-dresser in bar restroom

The woman testifies that she was hit in the face after she heard one of the other women in the restroom say, "There's a man in here."

Patrick Hagan is a man who likes to wear women's clothing.

He is also a man who wears a black belt in tae kwon do.

That unlikely combination, according to courtroom testimony on Wednesday, produced a crushing blow to Cheryl Partsch's face, knocking her out, loosening four teeth and sending her to surgery.

The 6-foot-3, 280-pound Hagan is on trial this week, accused of battering Partsch because she questioned his presence in the ladies' room at a Port Richey bar frequented by cross-dressers.

Partsch, 40, took the stand Wednesday to tell of her evening at BT's. She went there in November 1997 with her daughter, who knew one of the participants in a weekend drag show.

Partsch said she went to the ladies' room and talked briefly with her daughter's friend, Joseph Podolski, who goes by "Jo-Jo."

"We were talking about hair color," said Partsch.

Partsch said she heard one of the other women in the restroom say: "There's a man in here."

She turned to look and was met with a flying fist, she said.

Partsch said the punch from Hagan, who wore a taupe blouse and flower-print skirt to court Wednesday, came so fast she didn't even know what happened.

"Everyone was screaming at me," Partsch testified. "I looked in the mirror and I had a big fat lip. I had blood all over me."

The blow was powerful enough to cost Partsch $16,000 in medical bills, the prosecution says.

Partsch remembers waking up on the floor of the bathroom and hearing the voices of paramedics.

"I thought I was dead," she said.

Partsch, of Hudson, testified that she sometimes suffers headaches so severe that she has them treated at the hospital.

The contrast between Hagan's martial arts training and his feminine side is merely one of several oddities in this trial.

Lawyers on Wednesday told the jury they would hear from a former Swedish Navy captain who used to be a man but is now a woman, a cross-dresser named Chi-Chi and a host of witnesses ready to testify about the code of ethics that dictates under what circumstances a cross-dressing man may use a women's restroom.

Circuit Judge Stanley Mills pronounced it "a case full of bizarre twists."

During opening statements, defense lawyer Robert Attridge portrayed Hagan's punch as one thrown in self-defense. Partsch had several drinks before arriving at BT's, Attridge told the jury, and joined other bar patrons in taunting Hagan in the ladies' room.

Partsch kicked in the door to the stall Hagan used, Attridge said, scaring Hagan badly enough that he felt the need to defend himself.

Jurors heard testimony from one witness who contradicted himself on whether Partsch kicked the door. Partsch denies it.

Assistant State Attorney Scott Andringa questioned the self-defense argument, noting that Partsch is several inches shorter and more than 100 pounds lighter than Hagan.

"When he put his weight behind that punch," Andringa said, "that's all it took."

_ Times staff writer Geoff Dougherty covers courts in west Pasco. He can be reached at 869-6247 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6247. His e-mail address is geoffsptimes.com.

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