Attorney linked to NYC chokehold case countersues over rape claim; no criminal prosecution

An attorney who once represented the family of a man who died in a police chokehold has countersued a woman who accused him of rape, saying in court papers filed Monday that her assault allegations are defamatory.

Prosecutors announced last month that Sanford Rubenstein, a high-profile civil rights attorney and longtime friend to the Rev. Al Sharpton, would not face criminal charges stemming from the woman's account. That same day, the woman, a board member with Sharpton's National Action Network, sued Rubenstein for unspecified damages in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn.

In their answer to the woman's complaint Monday, Rubenstein's attorneys insisted the sexual encounter was consensual.

"You cannot continue to defame a person, in the hope of securing a cash settlement for a claim that has already been proven false," Rubenstein attorney Benjamin Brafman said in a statement. "For Sandy, this legal fight is now not about money, but a matter of principle."

His counterclaim also seeks unspecified damages.

The accuser's attorney, Kenneth Montgomery, didn't immediately return calls.

The Associated Press generally does not publish the names of people alleging sexual assault unless they agree to be identified.

Rubenstein and the 42-year-old woman both attended Sharpton's 60th birthday party Oct. 1 at the Four Seasons restaurant before going back to his Manhattan apartment. The woman said in court papers that she felt lightheaded and groggy after taking a drink and woke up to find Rubenstein sexually assaulting her, with bloody condoms around them, according to the court papers.

Rubenstein said in his claim that the woman initiated "various sexual acts" in two sexual encounters hours apart.

In his lawsuit, Rubenstein claims his reputation and business have been tarnished by the allegations. He stepped away from the case of Eric Garner, whose chokehold death has spurred protests over police conduct, after the rape allegations emerged.

The 70-year-old Brooklyn-based attorney has represented scores of clients alleging police brutality, including Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant whom a police officer admitted sodomizing with a broomstick in a case that settled for $8.75 million.