Fifth suspect in custody in gang rape of teen in Brownsville playground; four other suspects arraigned

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Josh Einiger has more from Downtown Brooklyn.

A fifth suspect is now in custody in the gang rape of an 18-year-old woman in a Brooklyn playground as the four others already arrested were arraigned in court Tuesday night.

17-year-old Travis Beckford was taken into custody Tuesday morning. He is being questioned and no charges were immediately filed.

Four other teenagers were arrested and charged as adults in the case.

But in an extraordinary bail hearing Tuesday night, attorneys for four of the five suspects vigorously pushed back. Prosecutors admit none of the suspects was picked out in a line up or photo array.

And then, there's cell phone video attorney Kenneth Montgomery claims shows the act was more consensual than prosecutors allege.

"It's not indicative of anyone under force, it's not indicative of anyone who's been beaten or bruised and it's not indicative of anyone who shows any bruises to her face. I think it speaks for itself. If a picture's worth a thousand words, video is worth how many? A million?" Montgomery said.

They pleaded not guilty because they claim the sex was consensual. Bail was set at $50,000 for the 15-year-old boy, $25,000 for 17-year-old Onandi Brown, and $10,000 each for a 14-year-old boy and another 15-year-old boy.

The other suspects are not being named at this time due to their age.

All are charged with rape, forcible compulsion, criminal sex act, and sexual abuse.

Two of the teens were arrested Sunday, and two others later turned themselves in.

They were all taken into custody in connection with the Thursday night incident at a playground in Brownsville.

Over the weekend, the case sparked outrage in the Brownsville community as public officials called on the NYPD to solve the shocking and unusual case defense attorneys claim was already starting to fall apart.

"That was the direction it was going 'til they were told to, sounds to me the police were pressured to make the arrests when they did," said Spencer Leeds, defense attorney.

In fact in court Tuesday night, two of the defendants charged with rape were not accused of any specific violent acts.

Eyewitness News spoke to the mother of one of the suspects whose son is just 15 years old. She says she first saw the surveillance video on Sunday and that her son has done nothing wrong.

"I woke him up and I called him and said, 'Is that you?' He said, 'Yes, I was there, but I didn't do anything,'" the suspect's mother said.

Also in the video was a 14-year-old boy in a red coat in the video. The mother says that after she saw the video, she reached out to that boy's mother, and they took them in to the 73rd precinct.

"That must have been a hard decision for you," Eyewitness News said.

"It was a hard decision, but we want to give their story first," the mother said.

Their story contradicts what the victim told authorities.

The victim says five men took turns raping her, and that she screamed for help but no one stopped.

"I was just really scared," the victim said. "I didn't know what to do. I was in a panic mode."

On Saturday evening, police released surveillance video showing the suspects from inside a bodega not far from Osborne Park, where police say the brutal attack unfolded just after 9 p.m.

The victim's father says he was with his daughter at the time, drinking near the handball courts, and that the group approached and one pulled out a gun, pointed it at his face and ordered him to leave.

"If I would have stood there and fought them (I would have died)," he said. "Because they meant business. They weren't playing around."

He said he first ran to a bodega, the same store where the suspects had been, for help.

"'I need help, call the cops, my daughter is getting raped,'" he said. "They didn't want to call the cops for me."

The clerk at that bodega tells Eyewitness News that the man was frantic and not making sense.

Eyewitness News obtained surveillance video of his frantic search for help. After he left the bodega, he appears to motion to someone behind the counter at a second location that he needed to use the phone. Next, he appears to ask a customer to use his cell phone. That man at first pulled out his phone and handed it to the father, but he quickly took it back.

The father then left and spotted two NYPD officers outside, who ran back to the park. But by then, the suspects were gone.

The suspect's mother says that her son told her that the group of five did cross paths with the victim and her father near the handball courts just after 9 p.m., but the teen insists that neither he nor the 14-year-old ever touched the young woman.

"My brother even went down to the precinct and gave his DNA without them asking," the suspect's older brother said.

After leaving the park, the 15-year-old said they went to he store and when they came back to the park, the victim's father threw a bottle at the teens, who then chased him.

The suspect's brother says that he was told the teens never had a gun at the scene either. "no gun, no gun," the brother said.

All five suspects are now in custody and the mother of one feels that in the court of public opinion, they've already been convicted of the crime.

"You're innocent until you're guilty and they're making them out to be monsters and it shouldn't be like that," the suspect's mother said.
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