ULV student sentenced to 60 days, probation

by Lori Cruz
Editorial Director

Sophomore David Riffle was sentenced yesterday in Pomona Superior Court for the attack on senior Jamie Bigornia.

Riffle was sentenced to three years of formal probation and 60 days in county jail for the March 29, 1996, incident in which he and sophomore Eric Britton were accused of assaulting Bigornia. In Februay, Britton was acquitted but Riffle was found guilty on one count of violating Bigornia’s civil rights and of battery.

The jail time will be served through the Marshall County Parks and Recreation Department, where Riffle will perform 60 eight-hour days of work.

This is not community service, said Deputy District Attorney Dan O’Connell.

“To the courts and to the D.A., this is difficult work. It is harsher than community service,” said O’Connell. “The judge allows this type of jail time by cutting him a break.”

Although Riffle maintains that he was “not guilty” of the misdemeanors, he said he was satisfied with the sentence.

“The original plea bargain was 90 days in jail, so I am all right with the overall punishment,” Riffle said.

Riffle will do more strenuous work than that of standard community service. At the “Tree Farm,” as it is commonly referred by those in the court, Riffle will plant trees, pick up trash, move benches and other various duties.

Riffle was allowed to postpone his jail time until school was finished for the summer.

Riffle’s attorney asked the court if he could start his time when school was finished and the judge complied.

“He will report to work on weekdays which will leave his weekends free. So he will serve a good two months of his summer,” said O’Connell.

“I’m glad I get the chance to stay in school and play baseball,” said Riffle.

In addition to probation and this type of jail time, Riffle was also ordered to pay $100 to the Victim’s Restitution Fund and pay any restitution to Bigornia.

This would cover any injuries sustained or medical expenses that Bigornia may have incurred because of the incident.

Also, Riffle must attend anger management classes and attend one class dealing with hate and tolerance at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Riffle also must not possess any alcohol or be in any public place where alcohol is the primary reason for being there.

For instance, said O’Connell, if Riffle was seen in a bar, that would violate the terms of his probation, which may cause the courts to impose stricter terms.

He must not harass or annoy Bigornia in any manner and he must obey all laws.

O’Connell asked for a harsher sentence for Riffle by asking for 90 days in jail and 120 of community service. Bigornia also thought the sentence was too light, even for a first time offender.

“If it was up to me, I would have made him to community service at a gay and lesbian center,” said Bigornia.

“He needs to know that gays and lesbians are people too and are out and proud. By seeing gays, maybe he would realize that what he did was wrong,” he said.

Bigornia did not attend the sentencing, because he said, “I figure I’ve wasted enough time on this. It’s been almost a year now and I’ve lost a lot of time. I did not need to confront him again.”

Bignoria said that he believes the University has taken a neutral position, which he added, “is sad.”

“The school should take a stand. A student here is a criminal, and still enrolled here and I don’t know why,” Bigornia said.

The incident occurred at Nick’s Place, and the jury found that Riffle was guilty of the fight that began due to Bigornia’s homosexuality. Riffle admitted that there was an altercation between he and Bigornia, but maintains that it was just a fight, and had nothing to do with Bigornia’s sexuality.

Bigornia said he called the police that night to “take a stand, something that more people should do,” he said. But, he added, “I am not a spokesman, I want to be remembered as an artist.”

Lori Cruz

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