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Two Charged in New Year's Attack on Yale Singers

Two men accused of a New Year's Eve attack on members of an all-male a cappella group from Yale University were expected to surrender Tuesday on assault charges.

Richard Aicardi and Brian Dwyer were charged with assaulting two members of the Baker's Dozen outside a party held in honor of the 16 student singers. Witnesses at the time said the trouble started after the vocalists, wearing sports jackets and ties, sang "The Star Spangled Banner."

Evan Gogel, one of the two most seriously injured chorus members, suffered a concussion when Aicardi, Dwyer and others repeatedly kicked him while he was on the ground, police said. Aicardi also was charged with punching Baker's Dozen member William Bailey as he tried to get away.

"This was a cowardly attack on defenseless victims," San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris said in a statement. "We are going to hold accountable those who have been identified as responsible."

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Aicardi, of San Francisco, was charged with two counts of felony assault by means of force and one count of battery, charges that carry a maximum penalty of eight years in prison.

Dwyer, of San Francisco, who was charged with one count of assault and one count of battery, faces a maximum prison sentence of seven years, if convicted, according to Harris.

"This is an environment where it's difficult to determine what is truth," said Tony Brass, a lawyer for Dwyer. "This case involves young people, it's New Year's Eve, it involves alcohol."

Aicardi and Dwyer were expected to surrender Tuesday, Brass said.

In the nine weeks since the widely publicized attack, the San Francisco Police Department weathered criticism from families of the Yale students who were upset by what they considered a slow and inadequate response.

The incident also threatened to give a black eye to the city's famously tolerant image. The victims said the attackers hurled anti-gay epithets before the first punch was thrown.

Police and Harris said the investigation was hampered because the young men could not identify their attackers. San Francisco investigators subsequently flew to Los Angeles and to New Haven, Conn. to gather more information.

Harris said Monday that even though police identified five suspects in the case, she did not have enough evidence to charge anyone else — including whomever was responsible for the broken jaw suffered by Sharyar Aziz Jr., another Baker's Dozen singer during the melee.

"If additional evidence emerges, we will move forward in that case as well," Harris said.

Whitney Leigh, a San Francisco lawyer representing the Gogel and Aziz families, said he was disappointed charges were not brought against three more men who were questioned by the police and that no one was charged in the assault on Aziz Jr.

Several witnesses reported overhearing Aicardi summoning friends to come participate in the attack, information which if true, would have made him liable under California law for any injuries that resulted from the brawl, according to Leigh.

"All I can conclude is that the DA appears to be reluctant to charge a case unless it's wrapped in a bow, and that's not what district attorneys are paid to do," Leigh said.

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