- Associated Press - Sunday, October 10, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) — Eight suspects arrested in connection with the brutal torture of two teenage boys and a man in an anti-gay attack last week were expected in court Sunday to face charges including robbery, assault and unlawful imprisonment as hate crimes.

Police said members of a gang called the Latin King Goonies heard a rumor that one of their new recruits, a 17-year-old, was gay. They found the teen on Oct. 3 and then stripped, beat and sodomized him with a plunger handle until he confessed to having had sex with a 30-year-old man who lives a few blocks away, investigators said.

The group found a second teen they suspected was gay and tortured him, too, police said. Finally, they invited the 30-year-old to the house, telling him they were having a party. When he arrived, they burned, beat and tortured him for hours. The attack included sodomizing him with a miniature baseball bat, police said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was sickened by the accusations of violence “and saddened by the anti-gay bias.” The attacks followed a string of teen suicides around the country last month that were attributed to anti-gay bullying.

A ninth suspect was still at large. A lawyer representing him had arranged for his client to turn himself in, but the suspect never showed, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

Gay men and women live openly in the largely Hispanic neighborhood of Morris Heights in the Bronx, and while residents were disturbed by some past violent behavior by the suspects, some people said the gang hadn’t previously targeted homosexuals.

The suspects arrested Thursday and Friday were identified as Ildefonzo Mendez, 23; David Rivera, 21; Steven Caraballo, Denis Peitars, Nelson Falu and Bryan Almonte, all 17; and Brian Cepeda, 16. All face charges including robbery, assault and unlawful imprisonment as hate crimes; Mr. Mendez, Mr. Rivera and Mr. Falu additionally were charged with committing a criminal sex act.

The eighth suspect, Elmer Confresi, 23, of the Bronx, turned himself in Saturday.