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Five homeless men indicted in Flushing Meadows rape

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The five homeless men accused of brutally raping a woman in a shantytown on the edge of Flushing Meadows Corona Park were indicted nearly five months after their arrest, the Queens district attorney announced May 21.

The indictment came after the district attorney and defense attorneys failed to come to an agreement on a plea bargain, said a lawyer for one of the defendants.

In the 18-count indictment, the five men, who have been in jail since the attack, were each charged with rape, sodomy, robbery, kidnapping, assault and criminal possession of stolen property.

“The defendants have been charged with acting together as a gang and surrounding and attacking a couple, viciously beating them, robbing them of money and jewelry, holding the woman captive, sexually assaulting her for almost three hours and telling her that they would have to kill her because she could identify them,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

On the night of Dec. 19, 2002, the men attacked a 42-year-old woman and her 38-year-old male friend near the Passerral Building in Flushing Meadows, the district attorney said.

After knocking the friend unconscious, the men dragged the woman to the shantytown where they lived, located in a nearby field of brush next to the Long Island Rail Road tracks, the district attorney said.

For almost three hours, the men repeatedly raped the woman, who was saved only when a canine unit discovered them, the district attorney said. The police had been alerted by her friend after he regained consciousness.

Luis Carmona, 20; Victor Cruz, 22; Jose Hernandez, 18; Armando Juvenal, 20 and Carlos Rodriguez, 22, are the defendants in the case.

Hernandez, Rodriguez and Cruz are natives of Mexico, while the fourth man, Juvenal, is from Ecuador, law enforcement sources said. Law enforcement sources did not have information on the country of birth of Carmona, the only one of the five who authorities believe entered the country legally.

Francis Gibbons, an attorney for Hernandez, said he was discussing a plea deal with the district attorney, but could not reach an agreement because authorities did not provide him sufficient information on his client’s alleged involvement.

“Because there are several suspects, it is our belief that not all of them are all equally morally culpable,” Gibbons said.

Gibbons noted another man, Jesus Torres, was originally arrested after he was bitten by the dog that barged in on the attack, but authorities have only charged him with trespassing.

Each of the five men is charged with five class B felonies. A class B felony has a penalty of up to 25 years in prison, a spokesman for the district attorney said.

The Dec. 19 attack caused an uproar that has caught the attention of the federal government.

In February, U.S. Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.), chairman of the House’s subcommittee on immigration and border security, held a hearing into the city’s policy towards illegal immigrants.

In particular, the subcommittee examined the city’s sanctuary policy, the practice of not telling federal authorities of the arrests of people with immigration violations. The policy, adopted under Mayor Edward Koch, was declared illegal in 1996.

Four of the five men arrested in connection with the Flushing Meadows rape entered the country illegally, and three of those men had criminal records, sources said.

The Flushing Meadows case sparked Hostettler’s hearing.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 141.

Updated 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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