GREENPOINT — A man accused of raping a woman in a portable toilet demanded oral sex in exchange for her cellphone, but she couldn't tell police whether it was consensual and refused to press charges — leading investigators to let him and another suspect go, law enforcement sources said.
Police tracked down two 23-year-old men believed to be involved in the alleged attack within hours of the incident because one of them had taken the woman's cellphone, but they declined to charge them after the pair denied sexually assaulting her and said what happened between them was consensual, sources said.
One of the men demanded the woman "Suck my d--k and we'll give you your phone back," she told police, according to sources. Police did not say why the men were not charged with taking the woman's phone.
More details of the case, and how police investigated it, emerged Tuesday amid increasing anger and frustration in the community over how the NYPD handles sexual assaults in North Brooklyn.
Once police interviewed the two men, Special Victims Investigators went to speak with the woman a second time after she'd had a rape kit conducted at Wyckoff Hospital, at which point she told a different story about what happened, sources said. One of the suspects also agreed to submit a DNA sample, a police source said.
The woman said she'd started her evening upset, as she had recently lost her job and got into a fight with her boyfriend earlier in the day, according to a police account.
She started drinking heavily with a man at a bar earlier in the day, though she could not tell investigators who she was with or which bar she was at, sources said. She then headed to a concert at the House of Vans, where the band Rise Against was expected to play, according to law enforcement sources.
She left the show just before 6 p.m. and walked two blocks along Banker Street, where she encountered the two men, she told police.
At first, she said the men dragged her into a portable toilet in front of a construction site and raped her, according to police and witnesses who tried to console her during the aftermath.
She told witnesses at the scene that she had been on her way to find a friend who got lost on their way to the House of Vans when the alleged attack happened. Two witnesses who spoke with her directly after described her as sobbing and hysterical but "coherent."
But during the second interview, the woman said she hadn't been dragged into the portable toilet and that she had consensually performed oral sex on the first suspect, according to sources.
After emerging from the toilet with the first man, she got into an argument with the second suspect, who had her phone, according to a law enforcement account.
"Suck my d--k and we'll give you your phone back," the man told her, according to sources.
She told police that she then performed oral sex on the second man, but could not be certain whether or not it was consensual.
She also told investigators she did not want to press charges against the men.
Investigators noted in their report that she had fought with her boyfriend, lost her job and admitted to cutting herself, after detectives noted scars on her upper arm.
The suspects, one from Brooklyn and the other from Staten Island, also changed their story about what happened.
Originally, they told police they had gotten into an argument with the woman over directions, but they later admitted she had performed oral sex on one of them.
They also admitted to taking her cellphone without permission and removing its SIM card.
The incident, word of which spread on the North Brooklyn Facebook group, triggered fear, fury and frustration among Greenpoint residents — at first when details of the preliminary account emerged, and then when police said they wouldn't make any arrests because of "a lot of inconsistencies" in the woman's account.
In matters of sexual assault, relations between local residents and the 94th Precinct are already tense, following comments made by Commanding Officer Peter Rose about acquaintance rape that triggered widespread backlash.
Emily Gallagher — founder of the Greenpoint Task Force, a local police accountability group launched following two attacks on women last fall, as well as a survivor of sexual assault herself — worried that the police investigation had moved too swiftly.
“She should get to sit with a social worker for hours, not immediately see the police. This kind of stuff takes time to process what happens to you. It’s embarrassing. It’s mind-blowing,” Gallagher said. "Any situation where something is taken from you and you are held hostage in a bathroom and asked to do a sexual act to get the thing that was taken from you... I think that that is a crime."
"Any kind of sex games that end in somebody crying on a street and two other people running away is not a kind of act that we need to be condoning on the streets of our community."
“Even if that happened in a private home with someone you knew, that would still be deeply traumatic and nonconsensual,” she continued. "I believe in innocent until proven guilty, but I feel it's interesting who we're willing to find innocent and who we’re willing to find suspicious."