Four young men falsely accused of raping an 18-year-old student at Hofstra University were trying to return their lives to normal Friday after an ordeal that two of them described as traumatic.
“I was really scared. I couldn’t believe what was basically going through my mind. It was like a big nightmare, and I thought I was going to do time for something I didn’t do,” 20-year-old Kevin Taveras told HLN’s “Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell.”
“It was devastating,” he said. “I was there just letting the clock tick and tick.”
Authorities dropped charges and freed the four men hours after their accuser changed her story about having been forcibly tied up and sexually assaulted in a dormitory bathroom.
“The woman admitted the encounters with each of the men were consensual,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice told reporters at a news conference Thursday.
The woman recanted her story Wednesday after authorities told her that part of the incident was recorded on a cell phone video, Rice said.
Hofstra “Rape” Video Surfaces; Accuser Suspended [Updated 09.17.09, 4:00 p.m.]
MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — A prosecutor was considering Thursday whether to file criminal charges against a Hofstra University freshman who recanted claims that she was gang-raped by five men in a dormitory bathroom.
The student, whom officials have declined to identify, has been suspended from school pending a disciplinary hearing, said Hofstra spokeswoman Melissa Connolly.
The spokeswoman also said that a suspension against Rondell Bedward — the only Hofstra student among the five men implicated — had been lifted.
The attorney for another of the accused men, 20-year-old Kevin Taveras, said a video of the sexual encounter confirms reports that the victim was not forcibly attacked.
“It looks more like a porn movie,” Victor Daly-Rivera said. “It showed just the opposite of what the allegations were. There was no tying up, there was no bruising, there was no screaming.”
On Wednesday night, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice revealed that the 18-year-old accuser had recanted and said the sex with the five men had been consensual.
Rice immediately got a judge to release four of the men from the Nassau County Jail. A fifth man was still being sought when the hoax was revealed.
“It’s crazy, the system is supposed to prevent these things from happening,” Taveras said outside the jail late Wednesday
“It’s supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven innocent,” he said. “Inside I thought I was going to do a bit for something I didn’t do.”
Bedward, 21, declined comment after he was released.
Rice said in a statement that after the woman changed her story, her office began investigating possible charges against the woman for making a false statement to police.
The woman first told police she was lured to the dormitory and raped after her cell phone was stolen by a man she’d met at a dance party. She said she was bound with rope while the five men took turns sexually assaulting her in a men’s bathroom stall.
On campus, students were shaking their heads at the latest twist in the case.
“It’s definitely a shock,” said Megan Michler, a junior from Penargyl, Pa. “I guess she completely lied about it and it’s not fair to the guys that were involved. Everyone was shaken up by the whole thing, and now we were shaken up for nothing.”
Hofstra, a private university of 12,600 students on Long Island, played host to the final presidential debate of the 2008 election.
[11:00 a.m. 9/17/09]
HEMPSTEAD, New York – Authorities in New York say the Hofstra University student who told police that she had been gang-raped by five men on campus has recanted her story.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement released late Wednesday that the 18-year-old told law enforcement officials that the sex was consensual.
Rice says Nassau County Judge Robert Bruno then dismissed the charges against four of the men and ordered their release.
The woman had accused the men, including a Hofstra student, of taking her cell phone at an on-campus nightclub and luring her into a dormitory men’s room and sexually assaulting her early Sunday.
Four of them, Rondell Bedward, Jesus Ortiz, Kevin Taveras and Stalin Felipe, were arrested and arraigned on rape and other charges.