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Two Convicted of Attacking Women

April 2, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) _ Two men charged with being part of an unruly group of men that doused women with water and groped them in Central Park were convicted Monday of riot and assault charges.

A third defendant, charged with sex abuse, was acquitted. The men were among 30 charged in connection with attacks on more than 50 women after the Puerto Rican Day Parade last June 11.

Convicted were David Garcia, 33, and Abel Ortiz, 24. The jury acquitted Juan Miranda, 23. Jurors also cleared Ortiz of three sex abuse counts and deadlocked on a fourth.

The three were captured on shaky hand-held video by amateur cameramen in the park. Prosecutors and defense lawyers clashed over how jurors should interpret what they saw on the tapes.

Ortiz’s lawyer, Edward Hamlin, said he plans to appeal.

``He did nothing tumultuous or violent and the women who were assaulted were assaulted after he left,″ Hamlin said, maintaining his client was in fact trying to help the women.

Verena Powell, Garcia’s lawyer, said she also intends to appeal. She declined further comment.

One victim, a 29-year-old French woman in New York on her honeymoon, testified she was doused with water and shoved to the ground while dozens of male hands ripped off her clothes, and groped and poked her breasts, buttocks and genitals.

Garcia, Ortiz and Miranda are the only suspects who went to trial. Of the rest, 16 pleaded guilty and received sentences ranging from probation to four years in prison, and 11 cases were dismissed for lack of evidence.

Garcia and Ortiz were scheduled to be sentenced April 30.

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