Details are still emerging on the alleged rape of an 18-year-old woman that took place last week on a Brooklyn playground. The case is being compared to the Central Park Five 1989 case in which five teens were wrongfully convicted of rape.
So far, we know that the woman and her father, 39, were at Osborn Playground on the night of Thursday, January 7. They were approached by a group of five male teenagers who allegedly raped the woman. The investigation has become increasingly more complex as new pieces of evidence emerge, and some of the major questions right now are: whether or not this was a consensual act, what happened to the missing gun, and what exactly was going on between the woman and her father that night.
As we wait for more details to come to light, here’s everything we know about the case so far.
Charges against all five boys have been dropped after the unnamed woman admitted to having consensual sex with the boys and her father, according to The Daily Mail. Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said on Wednesday that the woman had recanted both her allegations of sexual assault and the existence of a gun.
UPDATE: 1/15/2016 12:15 P.M.
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson told the court yesterday that “he would not make the initial deadline to obtain indictments against four of the five teenagers,” according to Gawker. As a result, four of the five suspects—Denzel Murray, Ethan Phillip, Travis Beckford and Onandi Brown—are to be released from jail without bail. Shaquell Cooper is still facing an unrelated assault charge and will remain in jail.
“’Because we are determined to get to the truth about what happened in that park, we need more time to investigate this complex case and gather more evidence,’ Thompson said in a statement. ’So, therefore, we have consented to the defendants’ release.'”
The alleged chain of events
The father and daughter were allegedly drinking beer on the playground when a group of five male teenagers approached them around 9:10 p.m., according to The New York Times. One of the teens held the father and daughter at gunpoint and demanded that the father leave, according to CNN.
“One of them put a gun in my face, telling me to run, and all of them had their way with her,” the father told WABC. He went to get help because he didn’t have a cell phone. It took him 20 minutes to reach two police officers. The New York Post reports that the reason why it took him so long to get help was because he was so drunk and incoherent, people couldn’t understand him. When he finally found the police officers and got back to the playground, the five teens were gone.
“I didn’t know what to do,” the daughter told WABC. “I was in panic mode.” She had cuts on her arms, neck and knees from the assault and was treated at a nearby hospital. It’s unclear if these cuts were new or old. From CNN:
“The young woman, law enforcement sources said, was drunk and combative, and investigators could not interview her the night of the attack. She bit one police officer and refused to be transported to the hospital, the sources told CNN.”
The teens involved
Denzel Murray, 14, Shaquell Cooper, 15, Ethan Phillip, 15, and Onandi Brown, 17, all appeared in court on Tuesday, according to The Chicago Tribune. They are facing multiple charges, including rape, criminal sex act and sexual abuse. Travis Beckford, 17, was arrested at Tilden High School earlier this week.
Denzel and one of 15-year-olds were turned in by their parents.
The woman and her relationship with her father
Two of the teenagers arrested claimed that the woman was having sex with her father in the playground that night, according to NYTimes. Detectives are now looking into these claims. From NYTimes:
“Spencer A. Leeds, the lawyer for Onandi Brown, 17, added, ’There’s a belief in the neighborhood, in the Brownsville community, that the complaining witness and the father have had sexual intercourse.'”
Though the father asserts that all of the teenagers “had their way” with his daughter, The Wall Street Journal reports that the father might have facilitated the boys’ intercourse with his daughter to some degree. From The Wall Street Journal:
“They indicated that the father is the one who put her in this compromised position and they took advantage,” the official said, adding the suspects said that as they walked into the playground, “One of them says, ‘We’ll take it from here.’ ”
The physical evidence
Detectives are searching for the weapon with which one of the teens allegedly held the father and daughter at gunpoint. They have yet to find it.
The police released a surveillance video on Sunday that shows “a group of young men entering a deli near the playground before the attack,” according to NYTimes. One of employees at the deli, Zaida Deli, confirmed that the footage was from his deli and that the boys in the video had often come by to steal snacks. “They’re bad boys,” he said. You can watch the video here.
A smartphone video allegedly taken right before the attack also emerged on Tuesday. It shows the victim “partially clothed on the ground, laughing and smiling, moments before the attack.” From NYTimes:
“Billy Sullivan, 24, said the video, less than 30 seconds long, was recorded Thursday at Osborn Playground by his younger brother, Mr. Phillip, 15. He said it portrays a fresh snippet of dialogue that would help the argument that any sex was consensual.
’She said yeah,’ an unidentified male voice is heard saying on the video, played for a reporter on Tuesday by Mr. Sullivan as he and his mother stood in the doorway of her home. Then a male voice is heard saying: ’If you said yeah, it’s lit, like, you know what I mean. I could tell you a freak.'”
Stay tuned for more updates.