Ex-Defendant Sues Prosecutor After Rape Charge Is Dropped
October 9, 2012
One of four men who had sex-crime charges against him in a case involving a young Orthodox Jewish woman dismissed last June has sued New York City and the Brooklyn district attorney’s office for malicious prosecution, defamation and false imprisonment.
The man, Darrell Dula, filed the lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn on Oct. 2, more than a year after he was jailed on Rikers Island and held there for months without bail on the charges, which were dismissed amid troubling questions about the accuser’s credibility and whether prosecutors mishandled exculpatory evidence.
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.
The case began in June 2011 when Mr. Hynes, at a highly publicized news conference, announced the indictments of Mr. Dula and three co-defendants — Damien Crooks and two brothers, Jamali and Jawara Brockett — on charges of rape, sex trafficking and compelling prostitution over the course of a decade.
The four men were accused of using assaults and threats of violence to silence the woman, a member of the Chabad Lubavitch community in Crown Heights who was only 13 at the start of the events described in the indictment.
According to the indictment, Mr. Dula, 26, was the least culpable of the four defendants, charged with a single count of rape. In April, after he had spent 10 months in jail, a judge released him when a police report surfaced recounting the victim’s recantation. In that report, the victim was quoted as telling an investigating officer, “Can’t a ho change her ways?” Jonathan Sims, Mr. Dula’s lawyer, said, “We believe that the victim’s account against our client was incredible from Day 1. The whole thing just stinks.” The suit was reported in The New York Post on Tuesday.
The defendants denied the woman’s charges; Mr. Crooks eventually said that he had consensual sex with her when she was 17.
The case began to unravel as an assistant district attorney, Abbie Greenberger, quit her job, complaining of pressure from Ms. Hersh to continue the prosecution even though the accuser had partially recanted her allegations — albeit under pressure from the police, the accuser claimed.
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. The Appellate Division’s Second Department normally oversees matters in Brooklyn but recused itself because of possible political ties to Mr. Hynes, the former prosecutor said.
A spokeswoman for the Office of Court Administration said that under state law officials cannot comment on pending investigations; she would neither confirm nor deny that an inquiry was taking place.
Mr. Hynes’s office declined to comment on the suit.