By Ted Scouten

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Tony Lima is no longer the executive director of Save.

He was fired after what happened during a gala he was hosting last month at Hard Rock Stadium.

The controversy surrounds a picture of four men in the 3rd row. People at the event say they are the four guys charged with a horrific gay bashing on South Beach, a beating that was caught on surveillance camera.

Steve Rothaus was there. He worked at the Miami Herald for 33 years, many of those years covering LGBT issues. “Suddenly he asked these 4 men to stand up and he introduced them. I’d say many people there were not really listening to everything that was being said,” he told us.

He said when the 4 stood many people were talking and not paying attention to what was being said. But he was surprised to hear what was said next.

“I was kind of pre-occupied myself but I was listening and heard him say what sounded to me like these were 4 men wrongly accused of a gay-bashing. That’s what I had heard,” he said.

The board of Save released a statement Monday saying in part, “The SAVE Board of Directors has made the unanimous decision to terminate Tony Lima’s employment as executive director.” It went on, “We deeply apologize for the pain that has been reignited.”

While Lima said over the weekend he did not remember using the words wrongly accused, he explained the 4 were volunteering at Save to give back to the community.

Today Lima released a statement saying in part, “Just to clarify the 4 men were not celebrated, they were welcomed into our space on their own accord. I am a huge believer in restorative justice and education to change hearts and minds.” “I want to apologize to the victims and those in the community that were hurt by my recent comments. For those to [sic] victims to relive this pain was never my intention.”

The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office relapsed a statement too. “The material issue is that the statement made at the Save Dade Gala, that the defendants are “wrongly accused”, is untrue.” It went on, “We believe we have sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the charges against them…”

The next hearing is set for Wednesday.

Ted Scouten

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