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Alleged victim testifies that York City Council member Lou Rivera raped him

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A man who testified Monday that York City Council member Lou Rivera exposed his genitals in a restaurant bathroom and tried to coax him into a sexual encounter is now alleging Rivera raped him.

"Based on information garnered today during the preliminary hearing, we will continue to investigate the additional allegations," said Chief Dave Lash of Northern York County Regional Police.

Rivera, 51, of Linden Avenue, had his preliminary hearing Monday on his misdemeanor charges of indecent exposure, disorderly conduct and harassment.

At the close of the hearing, District Judge Jeffrey Oberdorf determined enough evidence exists for Rivera to stand trial and forwarded the indecent-exposure case to York County Court.

York City Council member Lou Rivera leaves the office of District Judge Jeffrey Oberdorf on Monday, Nov. 16, following his preliminary hearing. Oberdorf determined enough evidence exists for Rivera to stand trial on charges including indecent exposure.
(John A. Pavoncello photo)

The council member is accused of showing his genitals to the man immediately following a Jan. 10 job interview at Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen on Toronita Street in Manchester Township, where Rivera was a manager at the time.

Police have made no allegations of rape against Rivera and haven't charged him with that crime. That wasn't what the hearing was about.

As he left Oberdorf's office with defense attorney Niles Benn, Rivera did not respond when The York Dispatch asked if he intended to resign his position on York City Council.

"Mr. Rivera did not do anything wrong, so (he's) not resigning," Benn said.

Benn unsuccessfully tried to get the case against his client dismissed, telling the judge, "I believe we have a disgruntled employee."

Oberdorf scheduled Rivera's formal arraignment in York County Court for Dec. 18, according to the district judge's office.

Rivera remains free on $25,000 unsecured bail, meaning he didn't have to post any cash but could forfeit that amount if he misses court proceedings.

No-contact bail provision: At the request of senior deputy prosecutor Stephanie Lombardo, Oberdorf ordered Rivera to have no contact with his alleged victim, including through third parties.

She made the request after the alleged victim, a 31-year-old man, testified that his fiancé previously knew Rivera — and also testified that after the restaurant encounter that led to Rivera's indecent-exposure case, Rivera went to the alleged victim's home and raped him.

The witness testified that Rivera "forced himself on me in my house, and that's why I stopped showing up at work."

The alleged victim also testified that his life was threatened in early March, but he did not say who threatened him.

"We have an active investigation based on information previously received regarding threats toward the victim," Lash told The York Dispatch. "However, social media platforms such as Grindr continue to be unresponsive to our search warrants."

Asked whether the alleged threats were related to Rivera's indecent-exposure case, the chief said that's yet to be determined.

"They were made near the time this case was reported to us originally," Lash said.

York City Council member Lou Rivera leaves the office of District Judge Jeffrey Oberdorf on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, with defense attorney Niles Benn. Rivera is accused of exposing his genitals to a man he'd just interviewed for a job at a Manchester Twp. restaurant.
(John A. Pavoncello photo)

Testimony: The alleged victim testified that as he was being interviewed for a server's position at Cheddar's, Rivera asked him questions regarding his sexual preferences and whether the man is a top or a bottom — "just inappropriate things to ask, for a manager."

The man said the questions made him uncomfortable, but that Rivera told him he was hired. He said he then went to use the bathroom and was just finishing at a urinal and starting to wash his hands when Rivera came in.

"(He) pulled out his penis … and coached me to come over to the urinal," the man testified, adding Rivera was aroused and holding his own penis in his hand, telling the man, "Come here, come here."

"I immediately wanted to leave and didn't take the job because of that," the alleged victim testified.

On cross-examination by Benn, the alleged victim testified he later changed his mind and took the job. He said reconsidered when the general manager of Cheddar's called him on Jan. 26, asking what had happened and why the man hadn't started working.

"We were hurting for money at the time," the man testified.

York City Council member Lou Rivera leaves the office of District Judge Jeffrey Oberdorf on Monday, Nov. 16, following his preliminary hearing. Oberdorf determined enough evidence exists for Rivera to stand trial on charges including indecent exposure.
(John A. Pavoncello photo)

'I felt threatened': Asked by Benn why he waited until Feb. 29 to contact police about the indecent-exposure allegations — and whether he'd had sex with Rivera — the alleged victim said Rivera "came to my house on a separate occasion to try something," which was when the alleged rape happened.

He testified, "I felt threatened." He also said his life was threatened in early March.

Also during cross-examination, Benn asked the alleged victim to describe Rivera's penis; the man provided a description.

The alleged victim told the court that during the encounter in the restaurant's men's room, Rivera "was playing with himself" and wanted the man to masturbate alongside him at the urinal.

Benn argued to the judge that Rivera had simply gone to the men's room to relieve himself — a claim the prosecutor took issue with.

Lou Rivera is sworn in at the start of the first York City Council meeting of the year, Monday, January 6, 2020. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

"You don't need to masturbate to urinate," Lombardo told the judge, adding that Rivera was "cajoling our victim to join him. That's indecent exposure."

About Rivera: Rivera is the first openly gay Latino to be elected to York City Council.

He was elected in November 2019 and took office in January.

Rivera was the driving force behind the brand new Spanish-American Multicultural Resource Center at 426 N. George St. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the nonprofit advocacy center happened in October.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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