Charges against five teenage boys who were accused of gang-raping an 18-year-old girl at a playground in Brooklyn last month have been dropped as she admits to having consensual sex with the boys and her father.
The unnamed girl has recanted her allegations of sexual assault against Denzel Murray, 14, Shaquell Cooper and Ethan Phillip, both 15, and Onandi Brown and Travis Beckford, both 17, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced Wednesday afternoon.
‘Working closely with the NYPD, my office has thoroughly investigated disturbing and very serious allegations of a gang rape at gunpoint last month inside the Osborn Playground in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn,’ a statement from Thompson’s office reads.
‘The complainant, as well as her father, provided multiple inconsistent accounts to NYPD Detectives and to experienced Special Victims prosecutors about important material facts in this case.
‘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.
‘She also refuses to cooperate with any prosecution against her father, who was engaging in sexual conduct with her. 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 that he hopes the young woman ‘gets all the support she needs going forward,’ adding that victim advocates have been working with her and will provide any assistance she may need in the future.
Originally authorities charged the five teens accused – ages 14, 15, 15, 17 and 17 – as adults, each with one count of rape, two counts of criminal sex act, and one count of sex abuse in connection with the alleged assault.
The girl involved claimed that she was with her 39-year-old father in the park drinking at about 9pm on January 7 when the group of teens approached them.
She told investigators that the group accosted them in the park and ordered the father to leave.
When he returned moments later and hurled a bottle at the teens, one teen pulled out a handgun and ordered him to leave, according to investigators at the time.
Police Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said at the time that the young woman gave a very credible report.
‘She had physical injuries at the time,’ he said. ‘She was traumatized.’
Her father said he wandered around for several minutes looking for help. He claimed he went into a store but a merchant refused to let him use a telephone, police said.
He then flagged down two police officers and told them he feared his daughter was being murdered, Boyce said.
‘Apparently he was hysterical,’ Boyce said. ‘He said a gun was pointed at him.’
In an interview with Eyewitness News in January, the dad defended his actions that night, saying he felt that if he stayed behind and tried to defend his daughter, he would have been shot.
He said: ‘The one put a gun in my face telling me to run, and all of them had their way with her.’
The girl also offered her side of the story, saying she was scared when her father took off running, leaving the men to take turns raping her.
The officers found her alone in the playground with bruises and cuts. Pieces of her clothing were found strewn near the park.
The New York Post reported that sources said the girl was combative and tried to flee from cops at the scene.
Sources also said she bit an officer. She initially refused to go to hospital but was then taken by ambulance and interviewed the next day.
The young woman claimed to have bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, but was not prescribed any medicines. She also had multiple healed scars on her arms.
After the suspects’ capture, at least two of them told investigators they believed the sexual encounter was consensual, police said.
Following the teens’ arrests in January, two of the boys insisted that they had consensual sex with the 18-year-old.
They also claimed to have witnessed the young woman having sex with her father in the park before the man staggered away from the scene, leaving his daughter alone with the teens.
‘Can we have some of that?’ one of the boys allegedly asked the father.
‘We did get that information from two of the persons arrested, from no one else,’ Boyce said.
The young woman’s father denied claims of incest made against him by two of the male teens.
‘They’re just trying to get out of the thing they did,’ the unnamed father told the New York Post in January on his way to a deli to buy beer. ‘I want them to rot in jail.’
Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Lisa Nugent said in January that none of the four suspects was identified by witnesses who viewed lineups and photo arrays.
Investigators said they did an extensive search for witnesses but came up empty. They said they recovered video from a nearby middle school that showed distant figures entering the park, helping to bolster the woman’s account.