Courts & Crime

Florida couple charged in anti-gay assaults on neighbor

A Fort Lauderdale couple is accused of twice attacking a man, and on Friday police labeled the attack a hate crime.

Ricardo Rivera, 53, and Bedsaida Rivera, 49, are each charged with one count of battery.

Having their attack labeled a hate crime doesn't change the charges, Fort Lauderdale police spokesman Sgt. Frank Sousa said, but it does mean they face stiffer penalties if found guilty.

The first attack happened on Sept. 6 in an apartment building in the 2100 block of Northeast 56th Street. Barry Jones, 45, told police that he heard loud noises and banging coming from the neighboring unit.

He went over and asked the group to keep down the noise, which led to an argument between him and Ricardo Rivera. Then Rivera began hitting him, according to an arrest affidavit.

"Jones stated that River knocked him to the ground and up against the wall," the affidavit said. "Jones stated that Rivera was yelling 'faggot' over and over while hitting him."

Afterward, Jones went to his doctor, who discovered a torn rotator cuff.

The next day, Sept. 7, Jones saw the green Ford Expedition that Rivera had left in on the night of the attack, and he walked over to write down the tag number.

That's when Bedsaida Rivera jumped out of the driver's seat, ran toward him and sprayed him with pepper spray while screaming "faggot!" and "I'm going to get you!" the affidavit said.

Jones backed away, at one point kicking open a gate and retreating to the pool area. Bedsaida Rivera followed, the affidavit said, spraying him in the face.

"Rivera began laughing," the document said, "and then got in the vehicle and drove away."

Bedsaida Rivera was arrested on Jan. 12 and charged with simple battery. She is out on pretrial release.

Ricardo Rivera was arrested in Georgia on Jan. 27 and charged with aggravated battery.