Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hofstra false rape case: Failure to charge false rape accuser becomes campaign issue

The Hofstra false rape case is the highest profile false rape since Duke Lacrosse. It made the cover page of the New York Post and has become a campaign issue in the race for District Attorney in Nassau County. Finally. If you haven't done it yet, please watch this "news" report that was prepared after the falsely accused were arrested but before the recantation -- but make sure you are sitting down and that there are no sharp objects nearby when you watch it: See here

Watson: I would prosecute Hofstra rape accuser

The former Nassau County prosecutor hoping to unseat District Attorney Kathleen Rice in the November election said Saturday that Rice "avoided the judicial process" in deciding not to prosecute the woman who falsely reported she was gang-raped at Hofstra University two weeks ago.

In an agreement with the district attorney's office signed Friday, the accuser, Danmell Ndonye, 18, of Washington Heights, again admitted she made up a story about being tied up and raped in a dorm bathroom in the early morning hours of Sept. 13 - a story that resulted in the arrests of four men.

Ndonye agreed to undergo counseling and perform 250 hours of community service. In return, she was not charged with making a false written statement, a misdemeanor.

The candidate, Joy Watson, who headed sex-crime prosecutions under former District Attorney Denis Dillon, said the seriousness of the accusation and the impact on the accused men warranted a criminal prosecution.

"I certainly would have held her to the charge," Watson said while campaigning in Westbury. "I would have charged her and let the probation department and the court make a determination as to the appropriate sentence."

Ndonye, a Hofstra freshman, told Nassau police Sept. 13 that she was lured to a dormitory bathroom, where she was tied in a stall with a rope and raped by five men. A 21-year-old Hofstra student and three others were arrested and charged with first-degree rape; the fifth man was never arrested.

Ndonye recanted her story Sept. 16 in an interview with Nassau prosecutors after they told her there might be a cell-phone video of the incident.

Charges against the men were dismissed that day and they were released from jail; their lawyers said the video showed consensual sex. Hofstra suspended Ndonye and reinstated Rondell Bedward, of the Bronx, the only Hofstra student among those arrested.

"If the system is going to say, 'You're troubled, so you're not going to get charged,' what kind of reverberations does that send through the entire judicial system?" asked Watson, who is running on the Republican and Conservative lines. Rice is a Democrat.

Rice spokesman Eric Phillips said the district attorney "got to the truth quickly, got four innocent guys out of jail and held their accuser accountable." He called Watson "a candidate . . . whose political pandering has given us all an insight into her 'Shoot first and ask questions later' philosophy of justice."

Shamecka Bedward, 24, the sister of Rondell Bedward - the only one of the men with whom Ndonye said she did not have sexual contact - spoke briefly Saturday at the family's apartment in the Bronx. She said only that he was back at school and that the family was speaking with lawyers.

The staff at the nearby Mi Bodega said they were happy Bedward's name had been cleared.

"That's good people. That lady, she was talking too much and look now, nothing happened," said owner Eugenio Brito, 45.

"I'm happy he's back. Everybody in the neighborhood is surprised he went through all that, because he is a good man, trust me," said store employee Pablo Amanzar, 35.

Attorneys for two of the other men charged said that they had discussed the possibility of civil suits but that such action by their clients was unlikely.

"I brought in a civil attorney I trust who reviewed it and found, unfortunately, there really is no case," said Victor Daly-Rivera, who represents the family of Kevin Taveras, 20, of Brentwood.
Attorney Jon Silveri said he had advised the family of Stalin Felipe, 19, of the Bronx, to consult with a civil expert.

With Daniel Edward Rosen