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Investigators: We need more time in NYC playground rape case

Police are searching for a fifth suspect after four teens turned themselves in for the alleged gang rape of an 18-year-old woman in Brooklyn
Teens in custody for Brooklyn gang rape 02:17

NEW YORK -- Prosecutors investigating a young woman's report of being gang-raped by five teenage boys in a playground say they need more time to gather evidence before they decide whether to take the case to a grand jury.

The boys have been charged with rape and other crimes following the Jan. 7 encounter in a quiet Brooklyn park. The Brooklyn district attorney's office has six months to investigate. Prosecutors can choose whether to drop the charges or take the case before a grand jury, which would then decide whether to indict the boys, who range in age from 14 to 17.

According to law, the boys must be released from jail if they aren't indicted within five days of their arrests, which is Friday, if their attorneys don't consent to adjournments. Three of the boys already are out on bail, so the release affects only Onandi Brown. The fifth boy, Shaquell Cooper, will continue to be held in an unrelated assault case.

District Attorney Ken Thompson said, "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. So, therefore, we have consented to the defendants' release."

Toxicology reports and DNA evidence from a rape kit administered at a hospital won't be ready until Friday or next week, and police were searching the cellphones of three of the boys for video evidence.

The 18-year-old woman told police she was approached by the boys while drinking with her father in the playground. Police said the boys chased away her father and flashed a gun at him when he returned. The father flagged down two police officers and took them to the playground, where they found his daughter wandering around alone with her clothes strewn about the area.

The woman was distraught but gave a very credible account of the attack, police said.

The boys were charged with rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and forcible touching. They say the sex with the woman was consensual and she was having sexual contact with her father when they approached. Two of the boys say they didn't participate and one had intercourse with her while the other two received oral sex.

The boys' attorneys say cellphone video shows the half-naked woman smiling and laughing as they approached her in the park.

"I think it's a clear indication that at least somebody realizes that the case has to be really evaluated," said defense attorney Kenneth Montgomery, who represents Denzel Murray. "I'm glad the DA's office has taken the position to really get to the bottom of this."

Attorney Abdula Greene, representing Ethan Philip, said the boy's mother is "happy they don't have an indictment at this time, but it's not over until God says it's over."

Other defense attorneys in the case didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment Thursday.

Brown's and Cooper's next court date is July 20. Travis Beckford and the other two boys have a brief appearance scheduled for Friday.

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