Man convicted in case of Puerto Rican Day Parade attack continues to proclaim innocence 20 years later

Twenty years have now gone by since women were attacked after the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City, and one man who was convicted in the case is continuing to proclaim his innocence.

News 12 Staff

Jun 26, 2020, 8:56 PM

Updated 1,428 days ago

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It happened back on June 11, 2000.  Abel Ortiz says it was a hot day as the Puerto Rican Day Parade was wrapping up and he was on his way home to the Bronx. 
He says he was 22 years old at the time and was walking toward Columbus Circle to catch the D train. 
"I noticed what appeared to me as the world having fun,” said Ortiz. "It was like something out of spring break."
A crowd of men and women were in a the park and men were filling bottles with hoses to pour on the women. What unfolded next was pure terror for more than 50 victims who had their clothes ripped off as they were violated by a mob of men. 
"I yelled over to my wife, 'Look, that's on the news.' She was like, 'You sure you didn't do any of that?' I said, 'I know I didn't do any of that,'” said Ortiz. 
For Bridgette Ortiz, she says she feels as though the nightmare was just yesterday.
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"He was like, 'Babe, they started attacking girls, I tried to help a girl, it got crazy and I left,'" she says.
 Her husband became a wanted man after a woman who was in town for the parade came forward about her assault. 
The woman later testified, "The man with the tattoo was holding my arms to the side so I couldn't move from anybody. He grabbed my breast, he said aloud, 'You guys are taking this too far,' then he started laughing at me."
Prosecutors showed Ortiz a freeze-frame of his face at the scene.
"I don't remember being in front of a female like that, so I was in shock -- I was like holy... and as soon as I said that, she said, 'Book him!'" said Abel Ortiz. 
Abel Ortiz was faced with a challenge as he searched through more than 40 tapes to find himself on video, in an effort to prove his innocence. 
"I told her, I don't know how I am going to prove this but I am going to prove it,” said Abel Ortiz.
Ortiz's lawyers say a mixed verdict led to him being unfairly punished.


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