Today, New York police announced the arrest of a 17-year-old suspect in the alleged gang rape of an 18-year-old woman at a playground in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, though the case only appears to be getting murkier as more details emerge.
The NYPD did not release the name of the newly apprehended suspect, but police believe that they currently have all perpetrators in custody. The fifth boy will presumably be charged as an adult along with the four other teenage suspects—14-year-old Denzel Murray, 15-year-olds Shaquille Cooper and Ethan Phillip, and 17-year-old Onandi Brown—who already have been. Each was charged with first-degree rape on Monday.
The story as it was initially reported was that the 18-year-old victim was walking through Osborn Playground in Brownsville with her father when the two were approached by armed suspects, who told the father to leave before they took turns assaulting his daughter. But as police have gathered more information, what actually happened at the park has become less clear but potentially more troubling.
According to the Times, the woman told police that she was “raped by at least one of the suspects and forced to perform oral sex on two others.” This claim seems to have been backed up by the suspects, two of whom, per a Times source, reportedly told police they watched the incident, which they believed to be consensual between the victim and the three others.
The father’s role in the incident also appears to be in question. The Times reports that the man had been drinking beer with his daughter—with whom he only recently reconnected—in the park. According to police, both were “heavily intoxicated” during the attack, a characterization that has been backed up by witnesses inside a bodega who refused to help the man because he was too drunk. Despite initial reports that the suspects were armed, the daughter told police she does not remember a gun and no weapon has been recovered.
But in separate interviews, two of the suspects have painted a radically different version of events, beginning with the father, according to an anonymous police source who spoke to the Wall Street Journal. Per that person, two of the teens say the father and daughter were having sex in the park when the group walked up on them. The source further implies that the father might in some way have facilitated the assault:
“They indicated that father is the one who put her in this compromised position and they took advantage,” the official said, adding that the suspects claim that as they walked into the playground, “One of them says ‘we’ll take it from here.’”
According to The Journal, the father told investigators that he ran away after the group came upon them before returning to the park and being stopped a second time by three of the suspects. He then ran into a bodega, where he was turned away, before finding two officers, who accompanied him to the park where the woman was found with “injuries consistent with sexual assault.”