Attorneys take opposing views on agreement with DA

September 25, 2009 By ALFONSO A. CASTILLO

Attorneys for two of the four men falsely accused of gang-raping a Hofstra freshman took opposing views - one negative, the other positive - on Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice's decision not to bring criminal charges against the accuser. But both said that the community service the young woman has agreed to do is a fair punishment.

Bronx attorney Victor Daly-Rivera learned of the agreement between the DA's office and Danmell Ndonye moments after a phone conversation Friday afternoon with his client, Kevin Taveras, 20, of Brentwood. Taveras had just expressed his wish that Ndonye be criminally prosecuted, he said.

"We feel that the law was broken and she should be made to answer for that," Daly-Rivera said. "People are prosecuted all the time for filing false insurance claims and things like that . . . When you compare that to accusing four men of rape, it sort of pales by comparison."

While neither he nor his client wants the 18-year-old Ndonye to go to jail, Daley-Rivera said, she should have been put "through the system" even if it ultimately resulted in the same punishment.

Daly-Rivera said he believes his client found "a small degree of comfort knowing that she's going to have to do the community service," referring to the agreement's requirement that Ndonye, of Washington Heights, perform 250 hours of such service at a location approved by the DA's office.
Taveras' stepmother, Giselle, said she did not like Rice's decision.

"He [Kevin] still gets flashbacks," she said. "It's not fair. She has to pay for that. All the family got hurt because of her."

Jon Silveri, a Bronx attorney who represents Stalin Felipe, 19, of the Bronx, another of the falsely accused young men, said his client "trusted the judgment" of Nassau prosecutors because of how quickly they acted in releasing him from jail after learning of his innocence.

Felipe said he did not believe prosecuting Ndonye would be much of a deterrent for future false accusers.

"If anything, the fact that this was so public, that the girl got thrown out of the school . . . that might be more of a deterrent," said Silveri, who spoke with his client Friday. "This is an example of how you can't rush to judgment. Hopefully people will remember this."

An attorney for Jesus Ortiz, 19, of the Bronx, did not return a call for comment. Rondell Bedward, 21, of the Bronx, could not be reached for comment.

With Bill Mason


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