Some criminal accusations are so shocking that, upon learning about them, it is tempting to assume that the person arrested for the crime is guilty. But an arrest is not a conviction, and many times further investigation leads to the charges getting dropped.
Last month, a Brooklyn judge dropped sexual assault charges against four juveniles and one 18-year-old man after prosecutors began to question the alleged victim's story. Prosecutors told the judge that the evidence was too uncertain to prove rape charges against any of the defendants beyond a reasonable doubt. Some of the defendants have said that the sexual encounter was consensual, and that they came upon the accuser having sex with her father.
At first, the woman told police that the defendants came upon her and her father in a playground, where they used a gun to force the father to run away before raping her. The terrifying allegations led to a series of arrests, but prosecutors acted cautiously, not indicting the suspects within six days, which meant they could not continue holding the suspects on first-degree rape charges.
Later, prosecutors said, the accuser and her father provided inconsistent statements about several parts of their story, such as whether there was a gun, if any force was used and who engaged in sex acts.
An attorney for one of the defendants described the sexual encounter as a mistake, but not a crime. Though his client will not face charges, he will have to deal with his name being linked to rape charges on the internet, the attorney noted.
Source: The New York Times, "Judge Dismisses Charges Against Teenagers in Brooklyn Rape Case," Nikita Stewart, March 3, 2016