Four of the five teenagers accused of raping an 18-year-old woman last week in a Brooklyn playground have been released without bail as authorities continue to investigate the complex case, according to reports.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Matthew Sciarrino on Thursday ordered the release of all five suspects – Travis Beckford, 17, Onandi Brown, 17, Ethan Phillip, 15, Shaquelle Cooper, 15, and Denzel Murray, 14 – though Cooper remains in custody in connection with a separate assault case from October, reports the New York Daily News.
“Because we are determined to get to the truth about what happened in that park, we need more time to investigate this complex case and gather more evidence. Therefore, we have consented to the defendants’ release,” Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said.
Three of the teens had already made bail; that money will be returned to them, WNBC-TV reports. A fourth was released Thursday.
The D.A. now has six months to present the case to a grand jury, WNBC says, and the charges against the teens will be pending until then. Prosecutors have said they intend to charge the teens as adults.
Police initially said the teens approached the woman and her father in a Brownsville playground, told the father to leave at gunpoint and then raped the woman. But investigators have been looking into other claims since then.
The attorney for one of the teens has said the sex was consensual and that a smartphone video of the encounter proves it, showing the woman laughing and smiling just ahead of the incident.
Also, some of the suspects have told detectives that the father and daughter were having sex when they arrived, reports The New York Times.
Under New York law, prosecutors have less than a week after a suspect is arrested on a felony charge to obtain a grand-jury indictment, the Timesadded. Otherwise the suspect must be released, and the D.A. has six more months to secure an indictment.
New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told the Daily News on Thursday that investigators still hadn’t gotten to the bottom of the case.
“The first story is never the last story,” he said. “I think in this case that’s certainly the case, or will prove to be the case.”