crimesider

"Hofstra Rape Sex Tape": Student Saved from Criminal Charges

(Hofstra Chronicle, Sean Gates)
Photo: Nassau County Police officers question Hofstra University student Rondell Bedward, seated, in a dormitory hallway, at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (AP) A Hofstra University freshman who falsely claimed she was gang-raped in a dormitory bathroom must undergo mental health counseling and perform 250 hours of community service in an agreement that saves her from criminal charges, a prosecutor said Friday.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said the agreement is far more than prosecutors could have expected if the woman, Danmel Ndonye, 18, of New York City, had been prosecuted.

Rice said Ndonye, whom she previously described as "deeply troubled," would have only been subject to a misdemeanor charge of filing a false report and there is nothing in the law to require her to undergo counseling and perform community service.

"There exists no perfect solution to this case, only our best attempt at holding her accountable while encouraging real victims to come forward and accusers to tell the truth," Rice said.

The Hofstra campus, which a year ago played host to the final debate of the presidential campaign, was thrown into turmoil after the woman claimed she was gang-raped by five men in a dormitory bathroom early on Sept. 13. Four men, including one Hofstra student, were arrested soon after, and a fifth man was being sought when Ndonye recanted her story three days later.

The four men were released within hours after Ndonye changed her story.

Rice said the turning point in the case came when the woman was confronted with the existence of a cell phone video of the encounter, which indicated the sex had been consensual. The video was shot by one of the five men and appeared to refute the woman's claims that she had been tied up and forcibly attacked.

Victor Daly-Rivera, an attorney for one of the men, said the video confirmed the woman wasn't attacked.

"It looks more like a porn movie," Daly-Rivera said last week. "It showed just the opposite of what the allegations were. There was no tying up, there was no bruising, there was no screaming."

(CBS)
Photo: Hofstra Students Accused of Rape.

Ndonye amended her story again on Friday, saying there was no sexual activity between her and Rondell Bedward, the only Hofstra student among the five implicated.

A message left at Bedward's home in the Bronx was not immediately returned Friday.

Ndonye's attorney, Bruce Barket, called the agreement a "very, very responsible and reasoned approach to this problem."

"This wraps up the entire matter in everyone's interest," he said.

He said his client had already begun counseling and has participated in community service since she was in high school. He said she would not be returning to Hofstra as a student.

Daly-Rivera, who represented 20-year-old Kevin Taveras, said Friday he would have preferred to see Ndonye face some kind of criminal charges.

"She committed a crime of great magnitude," he said. "The impact on the lives of these four young men is far-reaching."

Daly-Rivera said civil litigation against his client's accuser has not been ruled out.

A Hofstra University spokeswoman declined to comment on the prosecutor's decision.

Hofstra had initially suspended Bedward, but that was immediately lifted after his exoneration. It was not immediately clear if has returned to school.

  • Edecio Martinez

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