Authorities will drop charges against the teenagers accused of raping an 18-year-old woman at a Brooklyn playground in January.
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said Wednesday his office did not have the evidence necessary to pursue the case, and he added he hoped the young woman would receive the support she needed.
On Jan. 7, the 18-year-old's father stopped New York police officers to report that his daughter had been attacked by five men. One was armed with a gun, her father said, and had told him to leave. Each of the five then raped the 18-year-old, the father said.
Since then, Thompson said the young woman and her father have given several different versions of what happened. She ultimately told authorities she did not wish to pursue the case, and took back what she had said about the rape and the existence of a gun, Thompson said.
The District Attorney's office also said she did not wish to cooperate with a case against her father, who authorities said has also engaged in sexual conduct with her.
"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 on Wednesday.
The case drew outrage from city leaders as well as residents of the neighborhood. The Brooklyn borough president questioned the police response, which came roughly 20 minutes after the woman's father said the crime took place. Residents also questioned the time it took police to notify community members that they were searching for suspects. New flood lighting was also installed at the playground.
In the days following the report of rape, New York police arrested five teenagers. They ranged in age from 14 to 17, and they were charged with forcible rape, criminal sexual acts, and sexual abuse.
Prosecutors will ask a judge to formally dismiss the charges next week.
"It is my fervent hope that this young woman gets all the support that she needs going forward," Thompson said. "My office, including our victim advocates who have been working with this young woman, stand ready to provide her with any assistance she may need.”
Claudia Koerner is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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