Initial reports about the brutal beating of an openly gay Queens man Friday night (video) mentioned that one of the alleged assailants told the victim, "My father is a C.O. [correction officer]. You will never do anything to us." That stupid boast had been unsubstantiated, until now. Last night the father of Daniel Rodriguez, the second man arrested in the alleged hate crime against Jack Price, came forward to speak to reporters.

Retired New York correction officer Daniel Rodriguez, Sr. tearfully told the press, "I want to say to Mr. Price that I'm sorry for my son, and that he wasn't the one that caused him harm. I caused him the harm the minute I stopped being a father to my son. I hurt him." Prosecutors say Rodriguez confessed to detectives when he was arrested Wednesday at a hideout in Virginia; he's claiming that Price provoked him by writing graffiti of a sexual nature in the bodega where the confrontation began.

Rodriguez, who pleaded not-guilty yesterday, is said to have told detectives, "I was angry, cause Jack is disgusting." The graffiti claim seems to have been corroborated by a Gothamist commenter who identified himself as Anthony Vergara. (An Anthony Vergara on Facebook is friends with suspect Daniel Rodriguez.) The commenter writes:

I know Danny Rodriguez, I have known him for 5 years and we are close friends. What Danny did was wrong and it was a mistake to take his actions to that extreme and I cant believe Danny hurt this man the way he did. That being said, Danny didn't beat Jack Price because he was gay, he beat him becuase Jack was writing a graffiti message at the deli with his phone number, offering gay sexual acts.

This was not the first time Jack has done this because I have seen similar writings by him around College Point and in Flushing. Others have seen them too. Danny saw him writing the graffiti, asked him to stop and Jack blew him a kiss. They then got into a verbal arguement and Danny lost his temper and decided to take actions into his own hands. Danny already knew Jack because I have heard Danny talk about him before and the things Jack has done in the neighborhood. Danny would not attack an innocent man buying cigarettes just because he is gay and I know this.

Prosecutors say Rodriguez admitted to using an anti-gay slur and stealing Price's wallet. But Price insists he did not write any graffiti and did nothing to provoke the attack. After emerging from a medically-induced coma, he is gradually recovering. The assault left him with collapsed lungs, broken ribs, damaged spleen, and a metal plate in his jaw. He is having his breathing tubes taken out soon, and is expected home in a couple days. On Saturday there will be a march and rally in College Point to protest homophobia and celebrate diversity; details here.