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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lawyer-Prosecutor Pushed Out Over Ethical Issues

No slap for ousted ADA
The New York Post by Jose Martinez  -  May 26, 2012

A top Brooklyn assistant district attorney who resigned this week won’t be flagged for ethical breaches in a sensational rape case that’s now on the ropes, DA Charles Hynes said yesterday.  Lauren Hersh, who led the sex-trafficking unit under Hynes, quit Wednesday amid allegations prosecutors improperly failed to disclose to defense lawyers that an alleged rape victim recanted in 2010.  Yesterday, Hynes said a review of Hersh’s handling of the case showed there wasn’t enough evidence to sanction her.  Also, a source also told The Post that other sex-trafficking investigations supervised by Hersh are not in danger of being wrecked.  Hersh quit weeks after a high-profile case, in which four black men were indicted for preying on a troubled Orthodox Jewish woman from Crown Heights, began crumbling, with two of the accused rapists being released from jail last month.


Prosecutor Quits Her Job as Rape Case Is Reviewed
The New York By Colin Moynihan and Alan Feuer  -  May 24, 2012

The head of the sex trafficking unit at the Brooklyn district attorney’s office resigned on Thursday as the agency conducted a review of a controversial rape and prostitution case in Crown Heights that she oversaw last year.  The prosecutor, Lauren Hersh, presented the case to a grand jury, which indicted two men last year on charges that they sexually assaulted a girl and forced her to have sex with strangers for money starting when she was 13. Two other men were indicted on rape charges. The case attracted attention because the accuser was a young Orthodox Jewish woman, and the defendants were adult black men in a neighborhood where those two groups coexist but rarely interact.

But last month, serious questions emerged regarding the handling of the case when it was revealed that, before the indictments, the accuser recanted certain allegations involving two of the men in an interview with detectives, a fact that was not shared with defense lawyers for nearly a year. A report from the interview, dated April 1, 2010, indicated that the woman had recanted a statement made the day before, when she told the police that two of the men had beaten her and forced her to have sex.  “She states she was not forcibly raped,” the report’s author, a detective in the sex crimes squad, wrote, adding: “She went on to explain to me that she has been having consensual sexual intercourse and performing oral sex with both men for quite some time.”  Later, the detective wrote that the woman said she had initially said that she had been raped because one of the men had hit her and had not worn a condom while having sex with her.  In April, Justice John P. Walsh of State Supreme Court ordered the release of Darrell Dula, who had been charged with a single court of rape, and Damien Crooks, who had been charged with four counts of rape and two counts of sex trafficking. Both men had been on Rikers Island for 10 months, awaiting trial.  The two others, Jamali Brockett, who was charged with rape and compelling prostitution, and his brother, Jawara Brockett, who was charged with rape, remain imprisoned on unrelated charges.  The charges against all four men still stand, and prosecutors said they were continuing with the case.  Officials in the office of the district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, said last month that prosecutors had simply neglected to request the report containing the recantation from the police, and that when a new prosecutor was assigned to the case she requested the file and turned the exculpatory evidence over as soon as she received it.  Elliot Kay, a lawyer for Mr. Crooks, said prosecutors had turned over another batch of evidence in April that included a document produced by the district attorney’s office with a handwritten note referring to a recantation, indicating that prosecutors knew, before Ms. Hersh presented the case to the grand jury, that the accuser had changed her account. The jury indicted Mr. Dula and Mr. Crooks on rape stemming from the episode that the accuser had recanted.  During a hearing for Mr. Crooks, Michael F. Vecchione, the head of the rackets bureau of the district attorney’s office, which oversees the sex trafficking unit, told Justice Walsh that the office was reinvestigating every aspect of the case.  The district attorney’s office confirmed that Ms. Hersh had resigned, but refused any further comment. Stuart Rubin, a cousin of Ms. Hersh’s who spoke on her behalf said her resignation had no connection to the controversy surrounding the case.  “There has never been a finding that Lauren breached an ethical responsibility,” Mr. Rubin said. “She was not asked to resign.”  Ms. Hersh joined the district attorney’s office in 2004 after graduating from Brooklyn Law School. She worked in the domestic violence bureau before moving to the rackets division, where she specialized in sex trafficking cases.


Anonymous said...

Tell me why this lawyer-prosecutor isn't held to the same ethical standards as a non-prosecutor lawyer?

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't the Attorney grievance committee at the Appellate Division take this sua sponte? Oh, I forgot this is NY and lawyers are always given dispensations. Will the Brooklyn DA charge her with official misconduct? Oh, I forgot this is Brooklyn NY and the Brooklyn DA has a special set of laws applicable only for the Orthodox and/or lawyers in his office.

Anonymous said...

Christine Anderson gave the evidence about what goes on in these situations - Whitewash and Coverup!

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