Charges dropped against 5 accused in playground gang rape after victim recants story

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NEW YORK -- Charges have been dropped against the five teens who had been accused of raping an 18-year-old girl at a playground in Brooklyn last month after the victim changed her story, according to WPIX.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said Wednesday the victim refused to cooperate, gave conflicting accounts, and was having sex with her biological father on the night of Jan. 7, when she made the allegation of gang rape.

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

The teens accused — ages 14, 15, 15, 17 and 17 — were originally charged as adults, each with one count of rape, two counts of criminal sex act, and one count of sex abuse in connection. Last month, they had been released from jail after the DA decided the case was not ready to go before a grand jury.

“We are determined to get to the truth about what happened in that park,” Thompson told WPIX on Jan. 15.

Along with recanting her story, the victim also refused to cooperate with any prosecution on incest charges against her father, who the DA said was engaging in sexual conduct with her.

"It is my fervent hope that this young woman gets all the support that she needs going forward. My office, including our victim advocates who have been working with this young woman, stand ready to provide her with any assistance she may need," Thompson said.

The NYPD has been informed of the decision by the office of the Kings County District Attorney to dismiss this case. As of this time, the NYPD investigation into this matter is now officially closed.

At about 9 p.m. the night of Jan. 7, the young woman said she was with her father at Osborne Park in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn when a group of five teens came up to them.

The father told police one of the boys pulled out a gun and ordered him to leave.  He says he did and that's when he alleged the teens attacked the girl.

Officers found the young woman heavily intoxicated and later learned she'd been drinking in the park with her father, a police source told WPIX. She allegedly refused to get into an ambulance and bit an officer, the source said.

Among the evidence is cellphone video recorded by one of the suspects.

The matter outraged the community and sparked calls for arrest. Police released surveillance video of the group inside a bodega earlier that evening.

But the story was burdened with inconsistencies and problems from the very beginning. Among them: there was no gun.

Here is the full statement from Ken Thompson: 

“Working closely with the NYPD, my office has thoroughly investigated disturbing and very serious allegations of a gang rape at gunpoint last month inside the Osborn Playground in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn.

The complainant, as well as her father, provided multiple inconsistent accounts to NYPD Detectives and to experienced Special Victims prosecutors about important material facts in this case. The complainant has recanted her allegations of forcible sexual assault and the existence of a gun, and she does not wish to pursue criminal charges against any of the defendants. She also refuses to cooperate with any prosecution against her father, who was engaging in sexual conduct with her.

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

It is my fervent hope that this young woman gets all the support that she needs going forward. My office, including our victim advocates who have been working with this young woman, stand ready to provide her with any assistance she may need.”

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