Rape charges were dropped Wednesday against two former New York Police Department detectives accused of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman in the back of a police van after arresting her.
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office announced it was dismissing over 40 charges, included rape and kidnapping, against Eddie Martins and Richard Hall, citing “serious credibility issues” with the alleged victim, who uses the alias Anna Chambers to protect her identity.
“We are fully committed to holding these defendants accountable by vigorously pursuing the charges in this case that can be proven with independent and reliable evidence,” Oren Yaniv, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said in a statement.
Martins and Hall, who admitted to having sex with Chambers but claim it was consensual, will instead face charges of official misconduct and bribery of services, Yaniv said.
“It’s shocking that these rapists can get off the hook,” Chambers’ attorney Mike David told BuzzFeed News. “It’s just unbelievable.”
Chambers told investigators in September 2017 that Martins and Hall pulled her over while she was driving with two male friends near Coney Island in Brooklyn. After finding marijuana in the car, she said, the detectives let her friends go, arrested her and drove away with her in their unmarked police van.
She alleged that Martins and Hall took turns raping her in the van. Afterward, she said, she went to a local medical center to report the rape and receive a sexual assault forensic exam, commonly referred to as a rape kit.
Investigators interviewed Chambers over the next few days. Though they found several discrepancies in her story ― for example, she said she wore a miniskirt the night of the alleged assault, but surveillance footage showed her in sweatpants ― her basic account of what happened remained consistent, according to The New York Times.
Her rape kit results showed a positive DNA match between the accused men’s saliva and semen found on her body, and Martins and Hall were indicted on Oct. 30, 2017. Martins was charged with first-degree rape and Hall with first-degree criminal sexual act.
They faced up to 25 years in prison for the rape charges but now face a maximum of seven if convicted of the bribery and official misconduct charges.
David said it was impossible for his client to consent to sex with the two detectives, given the power dynamics of the situation.
In response to Chambers’ case, New York state passed a bill in March 2018 that made it a crime for police officers to have sex with people in custody. But Brooklyn’s attorney general’s office noted Wednesday that it was not the law at the time Martins and Hall had sex with Chambers.
“This is a sad day for victims of sexual violence in the United States, that something like this could happen,” David told the Times on Wednesday. “She needs to get justice.”