Four teenagers have been arrested in New York over the alleged gang rape of an 18-year-old woman in a playground.
Authorities say the woman was accosted by five suspects while walking with her father in Osborn Playground in Brooklyn, just after 9pm.
The attackers pointed a gun at the victim's father, ordering him to leave. All five suspects then raped the woman and fled before her father and two officers returned to the scene, according to police.
The woman was treated at Kings County Hospital and has since been released.
The attack has mortified New Yorkers, giving shocking substance to a growing sense of unease about dwindling security, which some trace back to less interventionist policing initiated by Mayor Bill de Blasio when he took office two years ago.
Two of the young men were turned in by their mothers, the police revealed. A fifth suspect is still being hunted.
“I am disgusted and deeply saddened by the horrific attack,” Mr de Blasio said. “Every New Yorker in every neighbourhood deserves to feel safe and protected, and we will not stop until the perpetrators of this disturbing attack are held accountable for their actions.”
The incident is also raising questions about the actions of the police in Brooklyn, amid claims from some quarters that their response to the rape was tardy and that they moved too slowly to inform the public, especially before any arrests had been made. Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams said he was “sickened” by the attack and called on the New York Police Department to investigate, “not only to identify all those responsible for this horrific attack, but also to determine if everything possible was done to protect the victim and the public”.
By the time police arrived at the scene, the youths had fled, leaving behind the victim, who was taken to hospital. She was reported to be making a full recovery. Talking to the Daily News newspaper, the victim’s mother said her daughter was “Okay”. She added: “I want them to get caught and go to jail for a long time.”
Part of the delay may have had to do with the father’s difficulty in finding help. He was rebuffed when he ran into a shop, begging to use its phone, as the shop’s owner didn’t believe his story. He was forced to flag down a police car for a lift.
The two youths turned in by their parents were aged just 14 and 15. The other two, tracked down and arrested by police without family help, were 15 and 17 years old. The age of the remaining missing suspect has not been released.
New York Police spokesperson Stephen Davis said: "A patrol car from the 73rd Precinct was approached on the street and told about the attack by the victim's father, who directed the officers to the scene.
“The police officers immediately responded and located the victim, the suspects had already fled."
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