New York

Charges Formally Dismissed Against Teens in Brooklyn Gang Rape Case

The boys had been charged with rape, committing a criminal sex act, sexual abuse and other charges

Charges have been formally dismissed against five teenage boys were accused of gang-raping a woman in a Brooklyn playground in January, a week after the borough's top prosecutor said he would be dropping criminal charges in the case.

A judge "dismissed and sealed" the cases of the teens accused in the alleged sexual attack in the Osborn Playground in Brownsville on Jan. 7. A woman alleged that the teens drove off her father with a gun to get her alone, then took turns raping her. 

But the case began to collapse not long after the teens were arrested as a series of revelations brought into doubt the woman's account. 

Cellphone video snippets had emerged, showing the woman smiling, with her clothes partially removed. More disturbingly, the boys told police that when they encountered the woman she was having sex with her father in the Brooklyn park.

"It's a relief," said Judith Naraian. "But we knew they were telling the truth all along."

Mayor de Blasio on Thursday called the case a "complicated situation."

"The police acted on the info that they had," he said. "The whole situation overall was very sad and everyone can hopefully move on with their lives"

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson wasn't able to indict the teens after the alleged rape and all five boys were released without bail. Then, on Feb. 24, he announced that the case would be dropped due to a lack of reliable evidence.

"That night, this young woman's father and the five young men engaged in conduct that was reprehensible and wrong," Thompson said, "but because of the lack of reliable evidence, criminal charges simply cannot be sustained."

The boys had been charged with rape, committing a criminal sex act, sexual abuse and other charges. They have said the encounter was consensual and maintained their innocence.

Thompson declined comment Thursday, but prosecutors in court continued to call the case "troubling."

At the hearing Thursday, defense attorneys for the boys, all of whom are between 14 and 17 years old, asked why the woman and her father weren't charged with making false statements and for incest. Authorities have said they have no plans to charge the woman, who's 18.

The woman initially told police her father was driven off by the boys, then returned and was ordered out of the park a second time by a boy who pulled a gun. The father later flagged down a police car for help, but questions arose immediately about how much time elapsed before he summoned assistance.

The father claimed to have gone for help immediately and had been turned away from two neighborhood convenience stores, but workers at one shop said the man only asked to use the phone and didn't say anything about an attack.

In a statement last week, Thompson said the woman provided "multiple inconsistent accounts" of the encounter when she was questioned by detectives. He said the woman didn't want to pursue the criminal case against the boys anymore.

Lawyers for the boys cited the cellphone video showing the woman smiling, but it remained unclear when during the encounter that video was taken or what happened after the camera was turned off.

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