Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson met with gay community leaders at a closed door meeting to listen to their concerns about the prosecutions of the suspects who allegedly beat and tortured three gay men in Morris Heights.
The meeting between the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and Johnson on Wednesday, November 3 came on the heals of indictments against seven men for the attacks. According to complaint reports, the attacks took place over 15 hours at 1910 Osborne Place and another location in Morris Heights on Sunday, October 3. While seven were indicted, there was insufficient evidence to hold four other suspects.
Indicted on charges including 1st and 2nd degree gang assault, robbery, and sexual abuse, as well as hate crimes, were Jose Dominguez, 22, Idelfonso Mendez, 23, David Rivera, 21, Elmer Confresi, 23, Nelson Falu, 17, and Ruddy Varagas, 22. Also indicted was Luis Garcia, 26, for one count of gang assault and robbery. Johnson said that he thought the meeting went well.
“I found the meeting to be very productive, but the more important assessment should come from the LGBT Community,” Johnson said.
Some LGBT leaders questioned the dropping of charges against the four individuals not indicted. Dirk McCall, executive director of Bronx Community Pride Center, said after the meeting that Johnson explained the reasons for pursuing seven prosecutions, instead of eleven.
“It was a very productive meeting, and he opened the lines of communication with the LGBT community,” McCall said. “He explained the legal process, and while he could not share many of the specifics of the case because of ongoing litigation, we all left heartened. We have full faith that he will achieve justice for our community.”
Represented at the meeting were Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. According to attendee Lewis Goldstein, Johnson said at the onset that he wanted to apologize for not reaching out to the LGBT Community and to Bronx Community Pride when the attacks first happened. Goldstein said that Johnson stated that dropping the charges against the four of the suspects could help create a level of trust with the jurors, showing that a thorough investigation is being conducted.
Goldstein, who has been a personal friend of Johnson for 25 years, said that he has known him to be sensitive to the needs of communities that are targets of hatred, bullying and violence. He said that he expects that Johnson will prosecute the remaining suspects vigorously.
“I am confident the he will be moving forward with the prosecution of the seven individuals who have committed a most heinous crime against three men based on their sexual orientation,” Goldstein said in a statement. “I am confident he will seek the stiffest penalties, and hopefully will not bargain with them and their attorneys.”