The most seriously injured victim of the New Year’s assault on the Baker’s Dozen a cappella group filed suit against his alleged assailants this month, citing concerns that the District Attorney has not filed appropriate criminal charges.
Sharyar Aziz ’10, who had his jaw broken in the attack, filed suit in San Francisco Superior Court against five alleged participants in the incident, only two of whom currently face criminal charges related to the attack. The suit names Richard Aicardi and Brian Dwyer, both 19, who were charged March 5 with attacking Evan Gogel ’10 and William Bailey ’10, as well as Richard Aicardi’s brothers James, 19, and Michael, 20, and Marino Peradotto, 20.
Richard Aicardi pleaded not guilty to the charges March 9. Dwyer has not yet entered a plea.
Aziz, who spent spring break on a singing tour with the Baker’s Dozen, said the lawsuit is “not about money.” He said he is happy that charges have been filed against the two men for their assault on Gogel and Bailey, but he is disappointed that no one was charged in conjunction with his injuries.
“The lawsuit was decided upon when it appeared that the justice wouldn’t be served completely as a result of the criminal investigation,” Aziz said.
The attack took place Jan. 1 outside of a party thrown in the group’s honor during a winter break singing tour on the West Coast. Witnesses said Aicardi and others taunted the Yale students with homophobic slurs after the students led a singalong at the party. Over a dozen assailants then attacked the group outside the party as the singers were leaving, leading to serious injuries such as concussions and sprained ankles.
Baker’s Dozen Business Manager Zach Bucknoff ’08 said he is unsure whether any other members of the Baker’s Dozen are considering lawsuits, and the group itself is not planning to file a lawsuit against anyone at this time.
Aziz said he wrote a letter to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, District Attorney Kamala Harris and Police Chief Heather Fong before the criminal charges were filed expressing his faith in the ongoing investigation. But he said he has not received any response from these officials since he mailed his letter.
“I lose more faith in them by the day, but I do have to remain somewhat positive that eventually justice will be served,” Aziz said.
The District Attorney’s office declined to comment on Aziz’s letter.
But Frank Passaglia, who is representing Richard Aicardi in the criminal case, said he thinks the suit is ill-timed because it was filed before the criminal trial. Passaglia said he thinks the suit is intended to draw attention to uncharged suspects and put pressure on the District Attorney’s office to charge them.
“It looks like grandstanding to me,” he said.
But Aziz’s lawyer Whitney Leigh said it is routine for civil and criminal cases to be filed simultaneously.
Leigh said he believes attempts have been made to destroy the evidence in the case, and a civil lawsuit is necessary to preserve it. He would not comment further on the issue.
Passaglia said he would not comment on the particulars of the criminal case, but he maintained that alcohol played a primary role in the incident on New Year’s Day.
“It was a mutual combat situation fueled by alcohol,” he said.
Bucknoff declined to comment on whether alcohol was involved in the assault, but said the incident was “definitely was not a mutual combat.”
District Attorney’s office representative Debbie Mesloh said Aicardi and Dwyer are scheduled for arraignment April 9. Both defendants are currently out of custody on bail.