NEW YORK – Prosecutors said Wednesday a young woman who accused five teenage boys of chasing away her father and gang-raping her in a playground has recanted her story and they're dropping criminal charges against the boys.
The boys had been charged with rape and other crimes following the Jan. 7 encounter in a quiet Brooklyn park.
Prosecutors will ask a judge next week to formally dismiss the charges against Travis Beckford, Onandi Brown, Denzel Murray, Shaquell Cooper and Ethan Phillip, who range in age from 14 to 17, a spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said. The boys also had faced criminal sex act, sexual abuse and other charges.
Authorities have no plans to charge the 18-year-old woman.
According to investigators, two of the boys said they found the woman having some type of sexual contact with a man, later identified as her father.
The woman told police her father was driven off by the boys, then returned and was ordered out of the park a second time by a boy who pulled a gun. The father later flagged down a police car for help. The woman told police that before officers arrived she was raped by the boys.
In a statement, Thompson said the woman provided "multiple inconsistent accounts" of the encounter when she was questioned by detectives.
"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.
The boys have said the encounter was consensual.
Lawyers for the boys said a cellphone video showed the woman smiling, with her clothes partially removed, but it remained unclear when during the encounter that video was taken or what happened after the camera was turned off.
Murray's attorney, Kenneth Montgomery, said he thinks the decision made by prosecutors illuminates what they were willing to do: investigate the case.
"I'm thankful they didn't rush to judgment," he said. "My client and his family are elated."
Thompson said the woman didn't want to pursue the criminal case against the boys anymore.
"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," he said.