Four of 5 Suspects in Brooklyn Gang Rape Appear in Court

The fifth suspect authorities had been searching for in the gang rape of a woman in a Brooklyn park last week was arrested and charged as police detailed their investigation into the rape for the first time Tuesday. 

The 17-year-old suspect was taken into custody at his school around 11 a.m. Tuesday. He was charged Tuesday with rape, criminal sex act and sex abuse. 

The four other suspects in the brutal Brownsville rape were arrested Sunday and appeared in court Tuesday night to face the charges of rape, criminal sex act and sex abuse. One is 14 years old, two are 15, and the other is 17. 

The fifth suspect taken into custody Tuesday did not appear with the others. 

Two of the defense lawyers spoke in court; one called the arrests politically motivated, the result of a rush to make arrests as police felt pressure from the public and elected officials. The other attorney said his client had no part in the rape and claimed there is video that shows the victim smiling and laughing at the park with her alleged attackers. 

The assistant district attorney admitted none of the four could be positively identified as suspects in two rounds of lineups. 

Defense attorney Kenneth Montgomery told reporters, "There's no one identified, there's no hits. They never alleged that my client had sexual contact. I think this is as weak as it gets." 

Prosecutors requested $500,000 bail for each suspect; the judge has ordered the 14-year-old and one 15-year-old held on $10,000 bond; the other 15-year-old on $50,000; and one of the 17-year-olds on $25,000.

Authorities say the 18-year-old victim was with her 39-year-old father in Osborn Park Thursday evening when the suspects set on the pair. One of the suspects pointed a gun at the father and told him to leave the park.

The father, who didn't have a cellphone, ran two blocks to a housing development nearby where he found patrol officers from the 73rd Precinct, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said Tuesday. 

"He gets the officers and comes back. Apparently, he's hysterical, says a gun was pointed at him," Boyce said. The father told the officers his daughter was "maybe being murdered."

The officers immediately radioed the report and went to the park with the father, where they found the traumatized victim, crying and visibly upset, with cuts and bruises on her body, said Boyce. 

The woman was taken to Kings County Hospital, where detectives spoke to her. Investigators determined the accounts from both the father and daughter were credible.

"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.

Boyce said the victim didn't know her attackers, and there was nothing to suggest the rape was pre-meditated.

Officials said two of the suspects surrendered with their parents Sunday afternoon, another turned himself in later that day, and a fourth was identified and arrested through a tip to the Crime Stoppers hotline, officials said. 

The investigation is ongoing, and police say there's still "a lot more to do," including waiting for DNA test results, collecting more video and locating the gun that was allegedly used to threaten the victim and her father. 

A young friend of one of the suspects appeared in court to support him.

"I know he wouldn't hurt a fly, that's not who he is,"  said Sumayya Rose, who grew up with the 14-year-old suspect and said the neighors often hung out in the park. "He's a nice person, he likes to make people laugh. He won't even hurt anybody. That's not who he is." 

Mayor Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, criticized the NYPD for not informing him of the rape earlier, takiing a harsher stance one day after he suggested the NYPD didn't inform the public of the rape immediately because of "sensitivities" in the investigation.

"I said the other day there are very delicate decisions made about when to inform the public and the broader community about a particular crime, because the last thing we want to do is undermine an investigation or undermine our ability to get the perpetrators," de Blasio said Tuesday. "I respect that and defer to that."

"In this instance, I think the process of informing the public should have been clearer and earlier," said de Blasio, adding he was informed by NYPD at about noon Sunday. 

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said any information that would have been put out immediately, as police were in the beginning stages of the investigation, would have been "extraordinarily minimal," with no video, photos or details at that point. 

But, he conceded, “that would have been sufficient to alert the neighborhood, the community, and to also, if anybody had seen something, to possibly give us assistance.”

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