Police investigate high-profile NYC lawyer after rape complaint

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 06, 2014 9:45 AM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Police are investigating an allegation that a New York City lawyer who has been involved in high-profile civil rights lawsuits against police raped a woman at his Manhattan apartment last week, police said on Monday.

Investigators on Sunday searched the apartment of Sanford Rubenstein, the lawyer, on after a 43-year-old woman told police he raped her, police said. No charges have been filed, and a defense lawyer representing Rubenstein has said no crime was committed.

Rubenstein, 70, and the woman on Wednesday attended a 60th birthday party for the Reverend Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist who has worked for years with Rubenstein on misconduct cases against the police department. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, filmmaker Spike Lee and singer Aretha Franklin were among the other guests.

A spokeswoman for Sharpton said the woman, who has not been publicly identified, works for the National Action Network, Sharpton's activism group.

"I feel that I am in a situation that I could not say anything disparaging about either one of them, so I'll have to wait and see where the investigation goes," Sharpton told reporters on Sunday, according to local news channels.

Rubenstein and Sharpton are representing the family of Eric Garner, a man who died in July when New York City police put him in a chokehold as they arrested him for peddling loose cigarettes.

Sharpton said he and a lawyer from the National Action Network met with Garner's relatives on Monday to discuss the allegations with them.

In a statement, Sharpton said Garner's relatives will announce on Saturday how they plan to continue their "ongoing pursuit of justice."

Neither Rubenstein nor the woman could be immediately reached for comment. Scott Rynecki, who leads a Brooklyn law firm with Rubenstein, declined to comment, referring questions to Benjamin Brafman, a defense lawyer for Rubenstein.

Brafman told reporters that no crime was committed.

"We are hopeful and confident that at the end of the investigation no charges will be filed," he said, according to local news channels.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Steve Orlofsky)