Bias ruled out in gay center vandalism

November 22, 2010 9:30:05 AM PST
Two former clients of a gay and lesbian youth center were among four people charged Tuesday with vandalizing the center. The Feb. 2 incident drew the attention of Gov. David Paterson, who dispatched his commissioner for human rights, Galen D. Kirkland, to the Long Island facility last week.

Four people pleaded not guilty to criminal mischief charges after authorities found a broken door, slashed tires and a van's mirrors mangled at the center.

Two of the accused, Charles Diaz, 21, and Gilbert Geigel, 20, were former clients of the center who were kicked out several years ago for disruptive behavior, said David Kilmnick, the CEO of Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth.

"The individuals regularly displayed inappropriate and disruptive behavior toward staff and other clients," Kilmnick said. "This behavior made many of our clients feel unsafe, and the organization responded appropriately by discharging them from our services."

Also charged were Milagro Ruiz, 21, and Kerrond Miller-Jones, 19. All four are from Bay Shore and were held on bail ranging from $15,000 to $20,000.

Edward Hennessy said his client, Ruiz, has no prior involvement with the criminal justice system. "We are confident it can be worked out in a manner that is favorable to all," he said.

Attorneys for Miller-Jones and Diaz did not return calls. Geigel was represented by Legal Aid; a spokesperson could not immediately identify the specific attorney.

"While the vandalism is no longer being investigated as a bias crime, we feel that the investigation and the attention paid to these crimes by public officials and media was appropriate," Kilmnick said.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said hate crime charges were not filed because investigators determined the motive for the vandalism was not bias.

"The center was not targeted because it was a gay and lesbian establishment," Dormer said.


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