THE CROWN HEIGHTS AFFAIR
Last June Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes had one of those grand press conferences surrounded by prosecutors, investigators and police brass. The details were shocking. Four young black men from Crown Heights had just been indicted for raping an Orthodox Jewish woman. One of the defendants, Darrell Dula, 25, had been accused of forcing the woman since she was 13 to have sex with other black men for a decade.
Crown Heights is a tightly knit community of Hassidic Jews and black people mostly from the Caribbean. They live together, but seldom mix. The story didn’t make sense, especially when you do the math. For 10 years the defendant, at age 15, started “sex-trafficking” a woman then 13, till she was 23 years old. Do the math. Does this story add up?
It all unraveled on Tuesday when the Daily News broke the story that the alleged victim gave a statement to the police that she made up the whole rape charge. The Daily News identified the assistant district attorney handling the case as Abbie Greenberger, who recently resigned from the DA’s office. The New York Times followed up the next day with quotes from Hynes spokesperson blaming Greenberger for not asking the police to turn over the file with that recantation. Hynes office wouldn’t blame Greenberger, but pointed out she “left the district attorney’s office”. The New York Times couldn’t reach Abbie Greenberger.
But the victim recanted the day after she made the initial complaint, and the cops had it in writing. So how did Hynes get that indictment? The time line wasn’t adding up.
On March 31, 2010 the alleged victim made a complaint to police that Dula and his friends were part of a crew that beat and raped her for a decade. A day later the woman told detectives she made the story up. That was on April 1st, April Fool’s Day. The woman went even further and signed a recantation, but one year later Hynes had a grand jury indict Dula and three others.
The Daily News followed up with another story last Thursday, this time getting the inside scoop that young assistant district attorney, Abbie Greenberger, who the DA’s office thought would take the fall. It turns out Abbie Greenberger is the unsung hero in this tragic saga.
At the risk of damaging her career, Ms Greenberger went on the record with the Daily News about what went on behind the scene. Three months after Hynes had his press conference to announce the indictment and it’s sordid details, the case was assigned to Abbie Greenberger. The young assistant immediately saw inconsistencies in the accusers story and reported them to Lauren Hersh, the chief of the sex-trafficking unit at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office. Greenberger told the News “When I brought the inconsistencies to Lauren Hersh, I was told that I didn’t do my job right”. The case dragged on and Greenberger grew more concerned after meeting with Dula who proclaimed his innocence. He’s been incarcerated for the past ten months.
Greenberger resigned, the victims recantation that had been purged from the file suddenly appeared, and Dula was released. The other three young men continue to sit in jail. When the civil cases are settled this publicity stunt will have cost the taxpayers millions.
District Attorney Hynes touted his indictments at that press conference and praised the accuser for coming forward. Now his spokesperson has declined comment.
Everyone has the right to remain silent. Even a prosecutor.
John O’Hara is an attorney. He lives in Brooklyn.
Post new comment