EAST MEADOW, N.Y. – Four New York men were released from jail Wednesday and authorities dismissed charges that they gang-raped a Hofstra University student after the 18-year-old woman recanted her story.
"I'm so happy the truth finally came out," said Stalin Felipe, 19, outside the Nassau County Jail in East Meadow where he and the other three had just been released Wednesday night.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement late Wednesday that the woman told law enforcement officials that the sex encounter in a dormitory men's room was consensual.
Rice said a county judge then dismissed the charges against the four men and ordered their release. She said her office has launched a criminal investigation into the woman's statements.
The woman had accused five men, including a Hofstra student, of taking her cell phone at an on-campus nightclub and luring her into a dormitory men's room and sexually assaulting her early Sunday.
Four men were arrested within hours and arraigned on rape and other charges. Felipe, Rondell Bedward, 21, Jesus Ortiz, 19, all of the Bronx, and Kevin Taveras, 20, of Brentwood, faced 25 years in prison if convicted.
"I'm so happy everything worked out in our favor," said Romilo Taveras, who picked up his son outside the jail. "That's no way to treat people."
Kevin Taveras said he was looking forward to a hot shower.
Felipe, who heard the news while half asleep in his jail cell, said he didn't have any hard feelings toward his accuser. "I'm just happy to be free."
He declined to discuss what occurred Sunday morning.
Bedward, who had been suspended by the university after his arrest, declined to speak with reporters outside jail.