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Beating victim Ray Widstrand forgives accused attackers

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Ray Widstrand says he's forgiven the attackers accused of nearly beating him to death in St. Paul in early August, the Star Tribune reports.

Widtrand, 27, told the paper that the incident was "just a freak accident" and "young kids lashing out."

"I was a young kid once. I lashed out," Widstrand said.

Widstrand, who was 26 at the time, was knocked down, kicked and stomped on after he was pulled into brawl involving 30-40 people while walking in St. Paul's Payne-Phalen neighborhood Oct. 4. He suffered potentially fatal brain swelling and was placed in a medically-induced coma at the hospital.

Widstrand says he has no memories of the attack. He is currently undergoing physical, speech and occupational therapy.

One adult -- Issac Oneal Maiden, 19 -- and four juveniles were charged in the attack.

Maiden's trial is set to begin Monday. He is charged with first-degree assault, crime committed for the benefit of a gang and first-degree aggravated robbery.

While Widstrand has forgiven his attackers, he tells Minnesota Public Radio that he doesn't think his parents have "because they have to sit back and watch me come to, and try to be normal again."

"They're the ones who are suffering, because they're on the sidelines watching me stumble and fall and get back up again. Meanwhile, I am in control," he tells MPR.

Widstrand appeared in public for the first time since the beating earlier this month, attending a fundraiser held on his behalf. He was wearing a protective helmet because part of his skull has been removed.

The Star Tribune says doctors will operate on Widstrand again in November to restore the bone flaps on his head.

Investigators suspect some of the attackers in the Widstrand incident were from the East Side Boyz gang, or possibly with the affiliated Ham Crazy gang. Authorities announced Wednesday that 16 suspected gang members in the St. Paul area were arrested in a recent gang sweep.

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