7-Year-Old NJ Girl Not Gang Raped, Defense Attorney Claims

Residents say security at crime-ridden apartment building has long been a problem

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Siede Preis

    The attorney for the first of five suspects accused of gang-raping a 7-year-old New Jersey girl says the child was not raped.

    Attorney Robin Lord suggested the girl was pressured to give a false account of what happened at a party. Lord is representing Gregory Leary.

    A judge on Thursday ordered Leary held on $500,000 bail.

    Leary is also accused of statutory rape and endangering the welfare of a child. Trenton police said the 20-year-old also had sex with the 7-year-old's stepsister, who is 15.

    Police say the stepsister sold the child to have sex with as many as seven men and boys at a party in a vacant apartment. The stepsister has also been arrested.

    A 19-year-old and three juvenile teenagers also are charged with the girl's rape.

    Meanwhile, residents at the crime-ridden apartment building where police say the rape happened say that security has long been a problem. 

    Most residents of Rowan Towers said they remained unsatisfied after meeting Wednesday with officials from the company that owns it, Interstate Realty Management Co. Others said they didn't get a chance to voice their concerns.

    The meeting, which included representatives from the mayor's office and the police department, was closed to most media, though a reporter with a local newspaper was escorted in after it began.

    Some residents who attended later said the building management and police offered no new solutions for improving security.

    "They (IRM and police) just kept saying 'We have a solution for that' when tenants asked about building security matters," resident Monyay Williams said. "We've been asking for cameras. We've been asking for a lot of things."

    When tenants began raising their voices in dissatisfaction with the responses to their complaints, the meeting was ended.

    IRM and police officials called the meeting productive. Police Director Irving Bradley Jr. said tenants should know officers will step up their efforts to keep them safe.

    "Even though there was a lot of anger, people were able to vocalize a lot of complaints," Bradley said. "We'll be doing some more surveying of the exterior and the interior of the building to improve security."

    IRM lacks the expertise to handle security on its own and will hire an outside consultant, spokeswoman Laura Zaner said.

    "We can't successfully manage the building without investing in its security" Zaner said. "We will have to put up the money."

    Confirming a fear of many tenants at the meeting, Zaner said those who were detained on unrelated warrants in a police raid last week could face eviction if they are found guilty of the crimes. According to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations, a management company is given authority to evict tenants convicted of certain crimes, Zaner said.

    Most of the tenants swept up in the raid were single mothers who have lived in the building for more than a decade and said their warrants were for minor infractions.

    Rowan Towers sits on a stretch of West State Street, near downtown Trenton, and is surrounded by blocks of abandoned, boarded-up homes. It's fronted by a well-manicured lawn and features a colorful playground and a basketball court.

    Neighbors of Rowan Towers say some tenants and their guests have long been a nuisance to the neighborhood.

    "It's just so wild, open and free," said Sharon Jackson, who lives in a seniors building next to Rowan Towers. "You get yourself a bottle (of alcohol) and a bag of weed, and there aren't too many people that won't invite you in over there. It's like life is one big party."