Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wrongly accused man sues NY City and the Brooklyn DA's office

Darrell Dula, wrongly accused along with three other men of raping a young Orthodox Jewish and forcing her to become a prostitute, has sued New York City and the Brooklyn district attorney’s office for malicious prosecution, defamation and false imprisonment. Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, and Lauren Hersh, the chief of Mr. Hynes’s sex-trafficking unit, were named in a separate, related suit.

Mr. Dula spent ten months in jail without bail before prosecutors last month dropped all charges against Dula and his three co-defendants.

Hynes had called all four men “low lives” in front of reporters, claiming they’d forced the young woman into prostituting herself for eight years, starting when she was 13. “It’s one of the sickest cases I’ve ever seen,” the veteran prosecutor gushed. In addition, reporters were told that Mr. Dula had been involved in sex trafficking, and had threatened the woman’s family members, according to one of Mr. Dula's attorneys.

Hynes and lead prosecutor Lauren Hersh proceeded with the prosecution despite knowing that a year prior, the woman had brought similar allegations to NYPD sex crimes detectives, only to change her mind and recant within hours.

Then, an assistant district attorney, Abbie Greenberger, quit her job, complaining that Ms. Hersh pressured her to continue the prosecution even though the accuser had partially recanted her allegations. The accuser claimed the recantation was pressured by the police.

Shortly after, Ms. Hersh, who oversaw the case, also quit her job, amid claims that she had failed to tell the defense about the changed account or about other evidence that could have damaged the prosecution’s case. She resigned in May, after the district attorney’s office conducted a review and concluded that she had not acted improperly.

According to a former Brooklyn prosecutor with close ties to Mr. Hynes’s office, the lawyer-disciplinary committee of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court’s First Department, in Manhattan, is investigating Ms. Hersh’s conduct in the rape case and other cases.