The supervisor tasked with monitoring three teenage boys at a now-closed home for troubled youth has been arrested for allegedly lying about checking on the 16-year-olds, who are accused of dragging a barely conscious 33-year-old woman from a Manhattan Internet cafe into the street and raping her in the stairwell of a nearby building, police said.
Denzel Thompson, formerly with Boys Town in Brooklyn, was arrested at his home Thursday on charges of lying on official documents, authorities said.
According to The Associated Press, Thompson, 24, allegedly made false entries in the home's logbook indicating he checked on the boys every half hour and that they were in their beds.
A police source familiar with the investigation said Thompson "made it appear the kids were there when they weren't."
Authorities say the teens escaped the group home on his watch and brutally attacked the woman, raping and beating her in a Chinatown stairwell after pulling her from the cafe, and stealing her underwear and purse before running off, according to a criminal complaint obtained by NBC 4 New York earlier this month.
The police source said it wasn't clear if Thompson knew the boys weren't in the home and was covering by allegedly falsifying the logs, or if he never checked to see if they were there. Thompson, who had worked with the Boys Town organization as a youth care worker for about a year, was suspended last week amid the ongoing investigation.
He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Thursday and was released.
Outside court, Thompson's attorney said his heart bled for the woman who was raped, reiterating that the case was based on allegations, not convictions, against the teens, and said he hoped the case wouldn't turn into one of "political football."
"This is a case in which there is an attempt being made to establish criminal intent to defraud but there is no criminal intent here and I would hope that the prosecution in this case and the people of this city that control the political structure are not about to engage in an act of political football," the attorney said. "It's unfortunate."
The teenagers allegedly sneaked out of Boys Town June 1,, and went to the cafe on Eldridge Street, where they encountered the woman shortly before 4 a.m.
Surveillance video from the cafe shows the teenagers groping the woman as she repeatedly tries to push them away, the criminal complaint says. The video also shows the three suspects grab her and pull her out the door, into the street, according to the complaint.
The woman told detectives her next memory was of being in a stairwell, surrounded by the teenagers, one of whom was engaged in a sexual act while the other two beat her, the complaint says.
After that, the woman told detectives her next memory was of being alone in the stairwell; her shirt was inside out, her camisole and underpants that she had been wearing were missing and her driver's license, cellphone, credit cards, keys and money were gone.
One of the teenage suspects allegedly admitted to police that he had sex with the woman in the stairwell; another said he tried to have sex with her, the criminal complaint says. A man who has raised one of the suspects since he was a toddler told NBC New York the teen told him he was drugged by one of his friends, also one of the accused, and doesn't remember what happened.
At least one of the teenagers later used the stolen keys and information from the woman's driver's license to gain access to her apartment. Police have said the teenagers allegedly had planned to rob the woman, but saw someone inside her home when they opened the door and fled.
The woman was taken to a hospital, where she was treated for "severe bruising, swelling, and substantial pain over her entire body, including her face, torso, arms and legs," the criminal complaint says.
The teenagers were arrested a day after the attack on a bevy of charges, including first-degree rape, robbery, assault, burglary and grand larceny, and are all charged as adults.
Boys Town was shut down after the boys were charged in the rape, and child welfare officials said it would remain closed until the agency that operates the facility could demonstrate it could safely supervise residents there. The agency is one of many that Administration for Children's Services contracts to facilitate care.
"ACS will meet with management of Boys Town New York and Boys Town's national office on a weekly basis over the coming weeks to implement corrective action," spokesman Christopher McKniff said.
The three boys were the only residents living in the Brooklyn home at the time it was shut down.
One of the teenagers is being represented by a private attorney, Albert Dayan. Dayan told NBC New York he wanted to adjudicate all of the issues in court once he had the opportunity to "examine the videotapes, the totality of the statement and the information and forensics if there are any."
"In connection to the reported statement that he made that may be construed as an admission, this would not be the first time that a young man was coerced by police into making statements and admissions that ultimately prove to be false," Dayan added.
Another is represented by Brad Foster, a lawyer with the nonprofit group New York County Defender Services. Foster did not immediately return a voicemail message. The third suspect is represented by Legal Aid, which does not comment on its cases. Bail was set at $100,000 cash at the teenagers' arraignments last week.
The man who had raised one of the suspects told NBC New York the boy was sent there because he didn't like going to school, not because he was a child who broke the law.