May 31, 2006
Four local men face rape charges this week following arrests last Thursday.
Paul J. Ward, 19, Kourtney Hughes, 21, Brandon T. Jackson, 19, and Sha'Keem Davis, 16, all of Southampton, are accused of raping a 15-year-old area girl. They have been charged with first-degree rape and first-degree sexual act. Additional charges of burglary and trespass were in the offing as of last Friday afternoon, according to the Sag Harbor Village Police.
Revealing the identity of a minor who is a victim of a sexual crime is a felony, Bob Clifford, a spokesman for District Attorney Tom Spota reminded on Friday. Therefore police and this newspaper are taking measures to protect the victim by not offering details of the case that could identify the girl.
She met one of the suspected attackers at a local teen night, Lt. Tom Mackey said. On the night of May 23, she and the boy and his three friends met up and began to party. There was drinking and drug use involved, Clifford confirmed.
The foursome made their way to the home of one of the young men's grandparents. They were not in town at the time and their Sag Harbor home was empty. The drinking and pot smoking allegedly continued and the girl went into a bedroom to lie down. She was allegedly attacked while she was passed out.
After the alleged crime was reported, police tracked three of the four boys back to the vacant house, arresting them on Thursday night. They subsequently found the fourth suspect at a different location. According to Lt. Mackey, all will be charged with burglary, since one suspect's grandfather has sworn out a complaint stating they did not have permission to be in the house. Charges of criminal trespass will also be lodged against those cops found at the summer home. Ward was additionally charged with seventh degree possession of a controlled substance. Cops say they found crack in his pocket at the time of arrest. According to Clifford, he signed a three-page confession implicating his companions in the crime.
Three of the young men were arraigned in East Hampton Town Justice Court. Judge Catherine Cahill set bail for Ward and Jackson at $20,000. Hughes, who reportedly has a prior record, was given a $25,000 bail. Davis, who was the last apprehended, was arraigned separately. His bail was set at $20,000 as well.
As news of the crime spread through town last week, some citizens wondered at the severity of the charge. But, according to New York State penal law, first-degree rape can be filed if the victim is described as "helpless." The girl's intoxicated condition meets the "helpless" criteria, Clifford said.