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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Brooklyn judge dismisses charges against Crown Heights sex traffickers

Darrell Dula

A Brooklyn judge today dismissed sex-trafficking charges against four men who were accused of preying on and pimping out a troubled young woman over several years.

Prosecutors asked Justice John Walsh to throw out the high-profile sex-trafficking case, which had been unraveling for months after they were accused of sitting on court documents showing the woman recanted her rape allegations a day after making them in 2010.

"After a careful reinvestigation of this matter, it is clear to the District Attorney that we cannot go forward," said Michael Vecchione, chief of the rackets division for the district attorney. "Therefore, in the interest of justice, we are moving to dismiss the case against all defendants."

Darrell Dula and Damien Crooks sat in the courtroom as Walsh tossed the charges that kept them in jail for nearly a year until they were released from Rikers Island this spring when the case began collapsing.

"My attorney was with me the whole time and he knew from the whole time something was wrong with this case," Crooks, 32, said outside the courtroom as he stood with his lawyer Elliot Kay. "I just want to thank God."

Crooks had a consensual sexual relationship with the Orthodox Jewish woman, who said in recordings obtained by The Post that she felt "horrible" about the allegations she made.

"I just want to tell her that it wasn't good for what she did," he said. "But I forgive her."

The woman - who defense lawyers said has a history of mental illness - lived near the men in Crown Heights.

"Justice has been done for my family," said Dula, 25. "I just want to start a new chapter in my life, put all this behind me."

The two men and brothers Jamali and Jawara Brockett - who remain in prison on unrelated charges - were charged last June with raping the now 22 -year-old woman and forcing her into prostitution, starting when she was 13.

But the case began to crumble this spring when a new prosecutor on the case discovered that not all court documents had been turned over to defense lawyers.

That included information that the accuser had recanted on her rape claim a day after she made it in March 2010.

"Nobody wins in this case," said James Phillips, a defense lawyer for Dula. "I'm glad that the district attorney realized his case never should have been brought in the first place."

Lauren Hersh, a top sex-trafficking prosecutor under District Attorney Charles Hynes, resigned just weeks after the case was staggered by the discovery of new documents.


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