Yesterday, five men accused of brutal anti-gay attacks were arraigned on hate crime charges including a, gang assault, sexual abuse, robbery and burglary. Two things to note: The Bronx DA's office listed two initial suspects in the attacks as victims and the judge warned the defendants' supporters not to make threats.
The attacks were allegedly carried out by members of the Latin King Goonies, who found out that a 17-year-old recruit had a gay sexual encounter with a 30-year-old man. They attacked both, sodomizing and beating the teen and sodomizing, beating, burning, and torturing the man. The police arrested a total of 11 suspect, but charges were dismissed against four, including Bryan Almonte and Brian Cepeda.
Almonte and Cepeda, both 17, were newly named as victims; the AP reports, "Five of the seven remaining defendants were charged with third-degree assault as a hate crime for attacking Almonte. They were also charged with menacing as a hate crime for threatening Cepeda with pliers... Almonte's attorney said the teen went to the apartment thinking it was just a party. When the assaults began, he tried to intercede and was attacked, attorney John O'Connell has said."
At the arraignment, according to NY1, Judge Stephen Barrett told the defendants' friends and family that some individuals were threatened, "Threats and violence will do you great harm. I'm just giving you all a prophylactic warning. You can not express your feelings through threats and violence." Apparently the defendants "aren't getting along" at Rikers and might turn on each other.
Defense attorneys said their clients were innocent and that the focus of the case as wrong. One attorney said of the 30-year-old victim, "I believe he was taking advantage of young boys in this case. And no one is speaking about that. I think it is an important factor in this case and hopefully this will come out as the case progress."