NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Brooklyn district attorney has dismissed charges against five teens accused of gang raping an 18-year-old woman at a Brownsville playground after she recanted the allegations.
District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said in a statement Wednesday evening the alleged victim and her father “provided multiple inconsistent accounts” to police.
Almost from the start, the explosive case seemed to unravel with the woman and her father allegedly telling police that they had been having sex in the playground that night, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports.
“The complainant has recanted her allegations of forcible sexual assault and the existence of a gun, and she does not wish to pursue criminal charges against any of the defendants,” Thompson said. “She also refuses to cooperate with any prosecution against her father, who was engaging in sexual conduct with her.”
The suspects ranged in age from 14 to 17. They were named and shamed by local politicians by the gang rape allegations.
“They should be more afraid of today than of the police,” city Public Advocate Letitia James said back in January.
Defense attorney Abdula Greene told CBS2 that her client can now try to reclaim his life.
“He can finally go back to some normalcy in his life. You can only imagine, he’s 15, the trauma that he experienced, the embarrassment,” Greene said. “When this story broke it went nationwide, sounded horrendous, so the family is glad that this is going to be behind them.”
A law enforcement source told CBS2’s Tony Aiello that the 18-year-old woman is “troubled.”
“There was evidence that at least two of the five defendants had sexual contact with her after she had sexual contact with her father in the park. Last week, she indicated that she never resisted, or said no, and made it clear she will not cooperate in any criminal prosecution,” the source said in a statement. “She is a troubled young woman who needs help, but there is no evidence that what happened that night amounted to criminal conduct. It was important to get to the truth and make the right decision.”
The reported attack happened in Osborn Playground in the area of Lott Avenue and Osborn Street in the Brooklyn neighborhood in January. Police said at the time that the woman was walking with her father when they were approached by five men. They claimed that one of the men was armed with a gun.
The armed man pointed the gun at them and ordered the father to leave the area, police said at the time. The father complied, and that’s when police said all five men raped the woman.
When the father came back with two officers, the suspects fled, police said. The woman was taken to the hospital where she was treated and released.
However, as WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, there was no gun and no rape.
Prosecutors now believe the woman was in the park drinking with her father, from whom she had been separated most of her life, there was sexual contact between the two, sources said.
The DA said the group of young men saw what was going on, and one of them joined in.
“That night, this young woman’s father and the five young men engaged in conduct that was reprehensible and wrong, but because of the lack of reliable evidence, criminal charges simply cannot be sustained,” Thompson said.
Thompson continued, “It is my fervent hope that this young woman gets all the support that she needs going forward. My office, including our victim advocates who have been working with this young woman, stand ready to provide her any assistance she may need.”
The NYPD has closed the case as of this time.
“The NYPD has been informed of the decision by the Kings County District Attorney’s Office to dismiss this case. “As of this time the NYPD investigation into this matter is now officially closed,” the statement reads.
The rape allegations caused an uproar after the father told community activists that he when he tried to use a nearby store’s phone, he was denied.
A deli worker told CBS2 that the anger has now subsided, as community activist Tony Herbert denied that there was a rush to judgment.
“We don’t have the luxury of sitting back and just letting things happen in our community,” Herbert told CBS2. “If an allegation was like that, we sound the alarm.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio also had to defend the NYPD against assertions of a delay in responding to the alleged rape.