Authorities charge 4 young men suspected of brutal assault that left singer Aviance with broken jaw, multiple bruises
NEW YORK Recording artist Kevin Aviance, who performs in drag, was chased and brutally beaten on an East Village street Saturday by a gang of young men who allegedly yelled anti-gay slurs.
Four young men suspected of the beating have been arraigned on assault charges following the battered singer’s release from the hospital.
Akino George, 20, of the Bronx, and Gregory Archie, 18, of Manhattan, were arraigned Tuesday in Manhattan Criminal Court on charges of first-degree gang assault and first-degree assault as a hate crime in the attack on Aviance, 38.
Jarell Sears, 20, of Newark, N.J., and Gerard Johnson, 16, of Manhattan, were arraigned on the same charges late Monday. None of the four entered a plea. All were held on $25,000 bail, and all were scheduled to return to court Friday.
The suspects face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
The four are accused of chasing and jumping Aviance at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday at First Avenue and East 16th Street. A felony complaint filed by prosecutors says the men followed Aviance along First Avenue, calling him derogatory names. It says they threw two garbage bags and a paint can at the singer before surrounding and attacking him.
The defendants repeatedly punched and kicked Aviance in the face and body, the complaint says, causing a broken jaw, bruised knee and other injuries.
Len Evans, Aviance’s publicist, said the singer could hear passers-by yelling at the attackers to stop. When it was over, a stranger walked him to the hospital.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg denounced the attack as “a disgrace.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton, in a letter to Gov. George Pataki, praised him for signing legislation in 2000 that enacted tougher penalties for crimes based on race, religion or sexual orientation.
The civil rights activist, citing several incidents that occurred in just one week in New York City and on Long Island, called on the governor to form a task force whose mission would be to further combat and eliminate this “unacceptable scourge.”
Aviance was discharged Monday from Manhattan’s Beth Israel Medical Center, his leg in a brace and his jaw wired shut. He clutched a bouquet of yellow roses from a well-wisher, and a framed photo of himself in performance costume and makeup, as he was wheeled out.
Aviance, who performs in drag, appeared on the Billboard dance music charts in 2002 and 2004 with his songs “Give It Up” and “Alive.”
The singer’s lawyer, Jay Sanchez, said as Aviance left the hospital, “Kevin’s in a lot of pain, both physical and mentally, and he faces a long road toward recovery.”
“Still, Kevin does want me to stress today that he is extremely appreciative to everyone who’s lent him and his family their support at this very difficult time,” Sanchez said.
This articleappeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 16, 2006.