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Police to Scrutinize Phone Video in Brooklyn Gang Rape Case

New York City police say they're looking for video evidence on three cellphones seized from teen boys suspected in the gang rape of an 18-year-old Brooklyn woman. 

A police spokesman said Wednesday that investigators obtained search warrants for the phones, but he had no information yet about their content.

The search comes after defense attorneys revealed the existence of a video clip they said shows a partially undressed woman smiling and laughing during her nighttime encounter with five teens in a public park.

Kenneth Montgomery, the lawyer representing the 14-year-old suspect, told reporters after his client's court appearance Tuesday night that the video "is not indicative of anyone under force, of anyone who has been beaten or bruised, or has bruises to their face. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million." 

Police say the woman was raped and that she had visible injuries when she was found by officers.

The cellphone evidence could further muddy a case that's already full of conflicting accounts and other complications.

"As the facts are developing, there's something about the case that kind of doesn't hit me right," said former prosecutor Michael Bachner, whos not involved in the gang rape case. 

Bachner said he wants to see more evidence connecting the five teenagers to the crime. Two of the teens told police the sex in the park last Thursday night was consensual, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. 

Boyce said there strong evidence to indicate there was an assault: officers found the victim in the park crying and visibly upset, with cuts and bruises on her body, Boyce said Tuesday.

"Everything she told us and the father told us -- the video we got the next morning and the next afternoon bolstered that side of the story," said Boyce.  

Police are still waiting for DNA evidence that will take another week to come in. The teens' attorneys noted the victim and her father were drunk in the park before the teens arrived, and none of them were picked out in a lineup. 

Some observers have made comparisons to the Central Park Five, another case involving five teens accused of rape in the park. They ultimately confessed to a crime that DNA evidence later proved they did not commit. 

"We've learned a lot since the Central Park case, not to jump to conclusions," said Bachner.

Since then, interrogation techniques have changed and are recorded. Detectives can still lie, but not about everything. Bachner says the public is now more skeptical and don't assume that an arrest equals a guilty verdict.

But the police insist the victim's version of events have merit. 

"Both the victim and the father say a gun was used. We're still searching for that gun," said Boyce. "There's a lot more to do in this case. There's DNA, there's other things, video collection as well, so we're not finished with the case."

The last of the five suspects to be arrested was arraigned Wednesday night. He was held on $2,500 bail. 

The defense lawyers for all the suspects -- one of whom is 14 years old, two whom are 15, and two whom are 17 -- deny the charges.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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