NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Opening statements took place Tuesday in the case against five Long Island teenagers accused of beating a man who police said was standing up for his wife while out walking their dog.
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The incident, which took place back in June 2012, divided many in the Rockville Centre community, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
Police said the attack began when a 44-year-old woman walking her dog was sexually heckled by a group of teens. The woman’s husband, John Woythaler, then jumped in his car and went looking for the group, authorities said.
Woythaler’s father said the mild-mannered soccer coach is still recovering from his injuries. “He had broken ribs, slashed lip which required stitches, but he also had a concussion from being kicked and bounced on the concrete.”
In court on Tuesday, prosecutors said the teens acted in unison and later boasted about the attack on Facebook. All five are being tried together.
Defense attorney John Lewis, however, said Woythaler went out looking for trouble and called him the aggressor.READ MORE: Dozens Gather In Harlem To Pray For Families Of NYPD Officers Shot While Responding To Domestic Dispute
“You have a bunch of teenaged boys who are chased down by a grown man, and regardless of what the DA says that man got out of a car and grabbed an 18-year-old boy,” Lewis said.
The incident polarized the Long Island community, with some residents blaming the victim for pursuing the teens, while others say the teens should have owned up to what they did, Gusoff reported.
The case is being decided by a judge, not a jury.
Woythaler is expected to testify later this week.
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