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Brooklyn DA Investigates Greenpoint Rape Claim, Reversing Earlier Stance

By  Gwynne Hogan and Noah  Hurowitz | April 27, 2017 7:21am 

 Acting DA Eric Gonzalez said Wednesday that his staff was interviewing the alleged victim of a sex assault in Greenpoint, two days after she was allegedly assaulted in a porta-potty.
Acting DA Eric Gonzalez said Wednesday that his staff was interviewing the alleged victim of a sex assault in Greenpoint, two days after she was allegedly assaulted in a porta-potty.
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DNAinfo/Noah Hurowitz

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The Brooklyn District Attorney's office on Wednesday reversed its earlier stance not to pursue a rape accusation by a woman who said she was assaulted by two men inside a Greenpoint portable toilet — agreeing to meet with the alleged victim two days after the reported attack, following public outcry.

The woman, who told police that two men grabbed her phone and said she would only get it back if she performed oral sex on one of them, will meet with prosecutors to determine how to move forward, according to acting DA Eric Gonzalez.

"I'm very aware of the disturbing allegation and I can tell you the young lady is meeting with social workers in my office to figure out what she would like to do with the case," acting DA Gonzalez said at an unrelated press conference announcing his candidacy for the DA seat. "I can't comment more directly but we're continuing to investigate."

While Gonzalez's office had earlier declined to comment on the incident, which happened Monday night on an industrial block of Greenpoint, police said that Brooklyn prosecutors were not going to move forward with charges against the two men they'd apprehended in possession of the woman's phone on Monday because of inconsistences in the woman's story.

The incident occurred at about 6 p.m. Monday, when the woman told bystanders and later police that two men had dragged her into a portable toilet on an industrial block of Banker Street near Wythe Ave., and one witness saw a man running from the scene pulling his pants up.

But in a later interview with Special Victims investigators, the woman’s story changed.

After having a rape kit administered at Wyckoff Hospital, she told police she had initially consented to oral sex with one of the men, before the second grabbed her phone and coerced her into giving him oral sex, demanding that she “suck my d--k” in order to get it back, according to police sources.

Prosecutors were concerned that they didn't have enough evidence to file charges against the two men, who police apprehended hours after the incident at the Barclays Center in possession of the woman's stolen phone, law enforcement sources said.

The incident sparked outrage among Greenpoint residents — who are still reeling from cavalier comments distinguishing between "acquaintance rape" and "abomination" rape by the 94th Precinct's Commanding Officer Peter Rose and the lack of arrests even after police had tracked down the suspected perpetrators, fanned that flame.

"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," said Emily Gallagher, who launched The Greenpoint Taskforce, a local police accountability group, following two assaults on neighborhood women. "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."

She planned a candlelight vigil for Thursday night to show solidarity with survivors of sexual assault.

Local City Councilman Stephen Levin encouraged anyone with more information about the incident to come forward to police.

"My job and the other elected officials jobs are to ensure that the NYPD is taking this seriously which I know they are," Levin said. "That they are conducting a through and comprehensive investigation, that they are communicating accurate and attributable information to the public."