Yale victims receive settlement

January 29, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A legal settlement came on Thursday in a Bay Area assault case that made national headlines. Members of a singing group from Yale University were beaten during a New Year's Eve party in San Francisco two years ago.

It's been two years since members of Yale's singing group "The Baker's Dozen" were beaten outside a New Year's Eve party in San Francisco. On Thursday night, a judge approved a settlement of a lawsuit brought against four young men from the Bay Area. The ABC7 I-Team broke the story back then and the case has since made national headlines.

As part of the settlement, four young men from San Francisco issued this public apology on Thursday night: "There is no justification for what happened to the members of the Baker's Dozen."

Yale's a cappella group, on a national tour, attended a New Year's Eve party in the Richmond District. The trouble began when they sang "The Star Spangled Banner" at midnight, and 19-year-old Rich Aicardi began making fun of them.

"Rich was behind me and he said, 'This is the gayest *&% he ever heard and what a bunch of fags,'" said Hunter Fairman, a witness.

The two sides argued and Rich Aicardi called in reinforcements.

"He said, 'I'm 20 deep, my boys are coming,'" said Reno Rapagnani, the homeowner.

A surveillance camera caught Aicardi's brothers and friends arriving in a van. They picked off members of The Baker's Dozen as they left the party, punching and kicking them. The Yale students suffered black eyes, sprains, a concussion, but the worst was what Sharyar Aziz suffered.

"Besides any bruising or scrapes to the face, the main injury I suffered was I broke my jaw in two places," said Aziz, a Yale student.

Prosecutors charged Rich Aicardi and his friend, Brian Dwyer with felony assault, but a judge tossed out the case. Witnesses could not connect them to the attack on Yale student Evan Gogel and no one was charged in Sharyar Aziz's beating.

"We filed the civil lawsuit because it was the only way that justice was going to be had in this case," said Whitney Leigh, an Aziz family lawyer.

Attorneys for the Aziz family would not disclose the amount of the settlement, only saying "it's significant".

The I-Team reached Sharyar Aziz's mother in New York on Thursday night. She says the money was not as important as that written apology.

Brian Dwyer and Richard, Michael, and James Aicardi "Accept full responsibility for the role they played in this incident and apologize to Mr. Aziz for any part they played in causing his injuries. [They] deeply regret the injuries Sharyar Aziz Jr. suffered."

You can read Dwyer's apology letter here and the Aicardi apology here.

"People make mistakes, people do wrong things, if they take responsibility and say they're sorry for it, that takes away some of the wound, and I think that's what's begun to happen today with this case," said Jim Hammer, an Aziz family lawyer.

Lawyers for the Aicardis and Dwyer did not return the I-Team's calls for comment. One other young man from San Francisco, a marine, has not settled with the Aziz family.

For more of the inside story read Dan Noyes' I-TEAM BLOG: Baker's Dozen Case Settles.

Official Court Order: click here
Dwyer Apology: click here
Aicardi Apology: click here