BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
Charles Perez, former anchor for WPLG-ABC 10, on Tuesday won a two-year restraining order against his ex-partner, whom he believes caused a chain of events that got him fired this month from the Post-Newsweek station.
Miami-Dade County Judge Rosa Figarola ordered Dennis Ricardo Peña to stay at least 500 feet away from Perez for the next 24 months. Peña, an unemployed paralegal, has 30 days to appeal and said "of course'' he will.
Perez, 46, testified in domestic violence court that he was afraid of Peña, 42, claiming that his ex-partner had threatened and sexually assaulted him.
Peña denied harming Perez, who did not file a complaint with the police.
The two men began an on-again, off-again relationship in February 2006 in New York, while Perez was a TV anchor at WABC. Peña moved to South Florida when Perez accepted a reporting-anchor job at Channel 10. They broke up in August 2008, a few months after Perez succeeded Dwight Lauderdale as weeknight news anchor with Laurie Jennings.
Perez and Peña co-own a South Beach condo. Perez bought it for $435,000 in October 2006 and later added Peña to the title with "joint rights of survivorship."
Perez told Figarola that he still owes about $435,000 on the Sunset Harbor condo in Miami Beach and that it is now assessed for tax purposes at under $294,000. Figarola awarded possession of the unit to Perez, who said he plans to give it "back to the bank."
Since their final breakup a year ago, Perez and Peña have fought over ownership. Perez told Figarola that Peña threatened him physically and said he would ruin him professionally.
On March 16, someone distributed a personal e-mail between Perez and a Los Angeles family therapist to everyone in the anchor's electronic address book, including his employers. In the e-mail, Perez said he needed counseling for gender identity issues.
Perez believes Peña sent everyone the e-mail. Peña denies it.
The feud became public in April, when Miami Herald columnist Joan Fleischman reported the domestic violence complaint.
In July, WPLG bumped Perez back to his old job, saying the change was a cost-cutting measure. Perez then filed a discrimination suit against the station, claiming Channel 10 demoted him because of his now-public sexual orientation. A few days after Perez complained to Miami-Dade's Equal Opportunity Board, WPLG fired him.
Photos by PETER ANDREW BOSCH / MIAMI HERALD STAFF