HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island father stood accused Wednesday of beating up a 17-year-old boy, but the defendant’s attorney said the man was trying to protect his daughter.
As CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported, Richard Ortiz, 45, of East Meadow, drove his 17-year-old daughter and three of her friends to Abe Levitt Park in Hicksville to fight another girl around 1 a.m. last Wednesday, police said.
Once there, Ortiz hit a 17-year-old boy with a crowbar after the teen stepped in to try to stop the fight, police said.
The 17-year-old, Peter Ciminera, pointed to the nine staples in his scalp, which police said were the result of an attack by Ortiz.
“This guy brought his daughter to a fight to fight my girlfriend, and then he came awfully close to my girlfriend, and I told him to stop,” Ciminera told Brown and WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall, “and then the next thing you knew, he pulled out something from under his waistband (and) hit me over the head.”
Nassau County investigators said Ortiz drove his daughter to the park for the sole purpose of starting a fight.
“We believe he arrived with the daughter,” said Nassau County police Inspector Kenneth Lack. “We believe he knew that the daughter was going to be involved in an altercation, and he drove her there.”
Ciminera’s mother was furious.
“An animal! I can’t even say anything more than that,” said Maddalena Ciminera.
But Oritz and his family had a different story entirely.
“I was jumped,” said his daughter, Alexandra Negron. “I was set up.”
Negron said she was lured to the park early that morning and threatened with her life if she didn’t show up. She said she has been bullied for years and went to the park to try to straighten out the problem, but found herself surrounded by 20 teenagers wearing bandannas — one had a baseball bat.
“If my dad didn’t show up at the same time that I did, I would have been really hurt that night,” Negron said, “and this isn’t fair.”
Ortiz’s wife also said their daughter was in fear, and called her husband’s action heroic.
“My daughter, you know, she had called us — she was in danger,” Ortiz’s wife said. “She wouldn’t answer our calls, so me personally — I’m the one that woke up my husband from bed and told him, ‘Please, go get Alexandra and make sure she’s OK.”
But as CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, the alleged victim’s father, Peter Ciminera Sr., said he does not understand why Ortiz allegedly left the park right after the teens called police to get help for his son.
“I have two daughters. I would never bring my daughter to a fight. I would pick her up and take her away from a fight,” Ciminera Sr. said. “To get out and hit a minor with a crowbar and be considered a hero? It’s sickening.
Ortiz’s defense attorney, Deron Castro, said the alleged victims in the case were misrepresenting what really happened.
“He’s an easy target because of the climate that we’re in now, and they could put together a nice little story that he brought his daughter down there to fight someone,” Castro said. “That’s not the case.”
Richard Ortiz is charged with second-degree assault, and police said he could be facing child endangerment charges as well.
He pleaded not guilty Wednesday before Nassau District Court Judge Tricia Ferrell at First District Court in Hempstead.
Bail for Ortiz was set at $20,000 bond or $10,000 cash, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported. A stay-away order was issued on behalf of the victim.
Ortiz is due back in court on June 27.
In a similar case recently, Long Island mother Dorka Lopez was accused of driving her 15-year-old daughter to a fight at Regis Park in Brentwood last week. Lopez was also accused of joining in that brawl.
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