Capital Region Legal News

Monday, January 25, 2016

Controversy Surrounds an Especially Egregious Rape in Brooklyn Playground What circumstances make the recent playground sexual assault controversial?

Rape is always a terrible crime, violent and traumatic. In the case of the recent alleged gang rape in a Brooklyn playground, the circumstances were particularly horrible. According to the prosecution, during a recent evening, a gang of five young teenagers accosted a young woman who was walking with her father in the playground. Threatening the father with a gun, they forced him to run and proceeded to take turns raping the victim.

The circumstances of the crime brought to the mind of New Yorkers the specter of the horrendous attack attributed to five juvenile perpetrators in 1989. In that case, after the alleged rapists had spent extensive time in prison, they appealed their convictions and were found innocent of all charges. Another man confessed to, and was convicted of, the crime.

In the recent case, the father says that, after having been threatened with a gun, he ran off to seek help. Later that night, four of the suspects were apprehended, but the fifth suspect remained at large. A few days later, the fifth suspect, Travis Beckford, 17, was arrested after he arrived at high school for his morning classes.

The case is by no means open and shut, involving, as it does, wildly contradictory stories. Not only do two of the suspects state that when they came upon the alleged victim she was having sexual relations with her father -- incest is a felony crime -- but a cell phone video has surfaced, taken by the brother of one of the suspects, showing the young woman, naked from the waist down, smiling in the presence of a young man to whom she is heard apparently agreeing to have sexual relations. In addition to the serious questions this data presents, the alleged weapon has not been recovered by the police, and the alleged victims were unable to identify the supposed perpetrators in a line-up.

Although the young woman was clearly injured and traumatized after the attack, there are many complications to the story. Apparently, the alleged victim was living out of state in foster care until last summer. The man she was with, her biological father, had lost custody of her when she 3 years old. Furthermore, the young woman had had no contact with her biological mother for a very long time. The incest charges are still being investigated, but the father has not yet been charged with a crime, nor has a sample of his DNA been requested.
The young men involved in the case have been charged as adults with rape, sex abuse and committing a criminal sex act. Nonetheless, controversy continues to swirl around the case. There is a prevailing opinion in the Brownsville neighborhood, where the alleged crime took place, that the young woman and her father were engaged in a sexual relationship, and the shadow of the earlier miscarriage of justice in the Central Park jogger case hangs over the situation.

As if these complications were not sufficient, there are also serious questions being asked about why all city playgrounds are not locked during the night to prevent possible criminal activity. In addition, Mayor DiBlasio has expressed dismay that it took several days for him to be informed about the incident, an inaction NYC Police Commissioner Bratton acknowledges was wrong.

If you have been suspected of, or arrested for, rape, incest, or another serious crime, it is essential that you promptly contact a criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the justice system, gather evidence and witnesses, and aggressively defend you in a court of law.


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