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Last suspect in Bronx anti-gay attacks to be arraigned

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Eighth arrest made in alleged hate crime
  • Lawyer says the suspect was "appalled" by the attacks
  • The last man sought in the beatings was arrested Monday, police said
  • Eight other suspects were arraigned Sunday
  • The suspects face charges of abduction, sodomy assault and robbery

New York (CNN) -- Ruddy Vargas-Perez, the last of nine named suspects in a series of anti-gay beatings in New York, will be arraigned Tuesday.

Of the other eight suspects in the attacks, six have been ordered held without bail. A judge has set bail for the remaining two suspects at $100,000.

Vargas-Perez, 22, was taken into custody late Monday afternoon, the New York Police Department said.

His lawyer, Benjamin Heinrich, told reporters outside the police station where he was arrested that his client was "absolutely not" involved in the October 3 attacks.

"Ruddy is just appalled by what these people have done to the victims in this case," Heinrich said. "He had no part in it whatsoever."

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The case involved three victims being held against their will by as many as nine assailants who beat them in a vacant apartment and sodomized two of them, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Friday.

A fourth victim was beaten and robbed in connection with the attacks, which New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg described as "torture."

"I was sickened by the brutal nature of these crimes and saddened at the anti-gay bias that contributed to them," Bloomberg said Saturday. "Hate crimes such as these strike fear into all of us."

The string of attacks began when members of a street gang calling themselves the Latin King Goonies learned that an aspiring member is gay, authorities said.

According to Kelly, the 17-year-old pledge was forced into an unoccupied apartment around 3:30 a.m. Sunday and questioned about his contact with a 30-year-old man. He was thrown into a wall, forced to strip naked, hit in the head with a beer can, cut with a box cutter and sodomized with the wooden handle of a plunger, the commissioner said.

His assailants let him go, but threatened to hurt him or his family if he talked, Kelly said.

The victim went to a hospital for treatment, but claimed his injuries were from an attack by unknown assailants on the street, the commissioner said.

The same day, another 17-year-old was beaten and questioned about the same 30-year-old man, robbed of jewelry and held against his will in the same vacant apartment, Kelly said.

About an hour after that, the 30-year-old man was lured to the location where the second 17-year-old was being held, was forced to strip naked and was tied to a chair opposite the teenager, Kelly said.

The teenager was forced to hit the older male several times in the face and burn him with cigarettes, after which the suspects assaulted him with their fists and a chain and sodomized him with a small baseball bat, the commissioner said.

The 30-year-old man was later dumped outside his home, he added.

Five of the suspects then went to the apartment the 30-year-old victim shared with his older brother and let themselves in using a key they'd taken from the man, Kelly explained. They beat the man's brother and demanded money from him.

When he refused, the assailants put a cell phone to his ear and he heard his younger brother say that he was being held against his will and to "give them the money," the commissioner said. The older brother told the suspects where they could find the money, after which they tied him up and left the apartment, Kelly added.

All nine of the suspects live in the Bronx, police said.

The hate crimes task force took over the investigation, Kelly said, and coordinated with the Bronx Gang Division and Bronx Special Victims Squad to help identify and capture the suspects.

Pending charges against them include unlawful imprisonment, abduction, sodomy, assault, robbery, and menacing, all as hate crimes, the commissioner said.

The crimes and arrests have attracted national attention.

"It is tragic to see what hate can do," Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group, said Saturday. "These three men were brutally attacked ... simply for who they are."

CNN's Christina Romano and Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.