It sounds all too familiar to Dick Jefferson. He is one of two American TV producers who were assaulted with a tire iron outside a bar in St. Maarten in early April. Jefferson said the attack was a hate crime: The men were attacked because they were gay. Jefferson and 25-year-old Ryan Smith were evacuated to Miami in an air ambulance. Jefferson had a steel plate implanted in his skull and more than 40 stitches. Smith is now recovering from brain injuries in the trauma unit at Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital, where therapists are trying to help him recover his ability to speak.
Jefferson says St. Maarten police showed no interest in investigating the crime.
"The police response has been no response," he told ABC News just days after the incident. "The best way I can put it is that when the detective finally came after three phone calls to get my report, he asked me 'Why should I even bother talking to you? Are you guys even going to file charges? You are just going back to America.' Police were totally indifferent to the situation, the crime, or to the seriousness of it."
Taco Stein, the chief prosecutor in St. Maarten, said the response time in the assault case was not acceptable.
"I have asked the chief of police to report to me why this happened," he said. "We need to find out what needs to be done to make it better."
Stein notes that the assault happened very late at night. "The problem is that like everywhere in the world we have less police officers on duty at 3 a.m. than in daylight, so that affects response time," he said.
That is a very real challenge for an island with 41,000 inhabitants and just 70 police officers. There are only 15 detectives. Stein said most of the officers are trained in Holland, but he conceded that the very virtue of island's small size and the limited amount of serious crime is also a liability: Officers do not get the same practical experience that officers would get in Holland or the United States.
"If you only have one murder in your career, you have less experience than if you have investigated 20 or 30 murders," he said.
But Stein cannot explain the reluctance of police to investigate the assault on Jefferson and Smith. St. Maarten police spokesman Johan Leonard and the island's chief of police did not return calls from ABC News.
Several days after the April 6 assaults, inspector Leonard told The Associated Press: "We do not take the ill-treatment of any person, whether resident or visitor, lightly, and we are pursuing this matter to find the suspects."
A report in the St. Maarten Daily Herald on April 24 said police there have arrested two suspects in the beating case, but added that neither the police or the prosecutor would confirm the arrests. The newspaper also reported that a third suspect -- thought to be the main suspect -- is still at large.
American Castel Santana has his own disturbing account of police conduct in St. Maarten. He, too, is a medical student at the American University. He said he was attracted to the island because of its low crime rate, but he quickly discovered that is a myth. He -- and other students -- say crime is constant, whether it is the theft of motor scooters or drivers robbed at gunpoint.