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Authorities: Bronx gang in gay bashing turned on 2 members

Members of a street gang who attacked a gay man and a recruit because they believed the two had a sexual encounter also turned on two of their own during the rampage, according to newly released court documents that say a pair of teens initially charged in the case were actually victims.

Bryan Almonte and Brian Cepeda, both 17, had been arrested along with nine others after the Oct. 3 attacks. Charges were later dropped against them and two others, whittling the defendants to seven.

Investigators say a group of men calling themselves the Latin King Goonies discovered one of their recruits was gay and had a sexual encounter with a man. The recruit, a 17-year-old, was beaten and sodomized at an abandoned apartment in the Bronx, authorities said.

Later that day, gang members told the 30-year-old man, known throughout the neighborhood as "The Queen," that they were having a party, authorities said. When he arrived, he was tied to a chair, burned, beaten, tortured and sodomized, police said.

Almonte and Cepeda had been accused of taking part in the assault. But 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.

It's not clear if Cepeda participated unwillingly in the attacks. His attorney didn't return a call seeking comment.

According to an indictment, five of the seven defendants were charged with third-degree assault as a hate crime for attacking Almonte and charged with menacing as a hate crime for threatening Cepeda.

Charges were dropped against Almonte, Cepeda, and Dennis Piters, all 17, and Steven Carabello, 16. Each had been charged with counts including robbery, gang assault and unlawful imprisonment

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