Lauren Hersh, the head of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s sex trafficking unit, resigned from her position May 24, just days after two of the men were released as the case against them unraveled.
The men spent a year in jail after a Jewish woman claimed she had been raped and pimped out by the men, starting years earlier when she was just 13. The woman reportedly recanted the charge a day later, but defense attorneys were not informed.
Crown Heights has a deep history of tensions between the neighborhood’s Orthodox and black communities, exploding most famously in the 1991 riots that shook the city.
“We have to be able to go back to a time when things that are legal issues are handled by the legal authorities,” said Richard Green, executive director of the Crown Heights Youth Collective and a longtime activist in the neighborhood’s black community. “I have tremendous confidence in [Brooklyn District Attorney Charles] Hynes.”
Green said he was concerned about the impact of the case on the wrongfully imprisoned men.
“These young men, their lives were radically altered,” he said. “I know DA Hynes is going to leave no stones unturned to get to the bottom of it, so that’s how I looked at that.”
Hynes told reporters that the accused men had “sold [the victim] on the street for $20 to passerby,”
By Josh Nathan-Kazis - Forward