At a hearing in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, the New York Times reports, one of the five teenagers accused in the gang-rape of an 18-year-old woman introduced a smartphone video that its owner and defense lawyers said showed a brief exchange with the victim before the suspected attack.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, at a news conference outside City Hall, Commissioner William J. Bratton conceded that the NYPD should have informed the public more quickly of the alleged attack at Osborn Playground, in Brownsville, around 9 p.m. last Thursday.
“There’s no denying that the department should have—I, police commissioner, the department, our press office—put some information out on Friday,” Bratton said. While the early information was “extraordinarily minimal,” nevertheless, “that would have been sufficient to alert the neighborhood, the community, and to also, if anybody had seen something, to possibly give us assistance.”
The smartphone video that emerged on Tuesday was brief and cryptic and showed only the woman, who could only be heard mumbling at times. Whether it might help the defense or the prosecution was unclear.
Billy Sullivan, 24, said the video, less than 30 seconds long, was recorded Thursday at Osborn Playground by his younger brother, Ethan Phillip, 15, one of the five suspects. 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.”
The department’s chief of detectives, Robert K. Boyce, confirmed reports that detectives are investigating claims that the woman had been having sex with her father when the five suspects came upon them. “That came from two individuals that were arrested,” Boyce said. “That’s the only place we’ve got that from so far.”
“What appeared to have happened is that the father may have put her in that compromised position,” the official said. The father was reportedly drunk at the time of the attack, which impeded his ability to communicate to people nearby what was going on. “He’s like that, a drunk, yes,” a next door neighbor said.
An NYPD spokesman, Deputy Chief Edward Mullen, said that investigators were “aware of claims” that videos of the incident had been made, but that they had not seen them. “We are in the process of obtaining search warrants for some of the suspects’ phones.”