- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - A group home for troubled youth has been closed after three teenage residents were charged this week with rape and other crimes, accused of attacking a woman they encountered at a cafe when they should have been home, authorities said Friday.

Child welfare officials say the home will remain closed until the agency that operates the facility, Boys Town, can demonstrate that it can safely supervise residents there. The agency is one of many that Administration for Children’s Services contracts to facilitate care. The three boys were the only residents living at the Brooklyn brownstone at the time.

“ACS will meet with management of Boys Town New York and Boys Town’s national office on a weekly basis over the coming weeks to implement corrective action,” spokesman Christopher McKniff said.

The home was part of the city’s Close to Home program, a juvenile justice initiative where minors are sent to residences near their relatives and schools instead of far-off centers. It was staffed around the clock and had the capacity for six residents. A person familiar with the investigation says two workers on duty when the boys slipped out have been fired, and they may have been falsifying log books that were supposed to track residents. The person was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Kara Neuverth, a spokeswoman for the Nebraska-based Boys Town, said the agency could not confirm whether the youths were in their care because of privacy laws.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of this crime that has happened in the community,” she said.

The three 16-year-olds were charged this week as adults after the attack on the 33-year-old woman. Manhattan prosecutors said at their arraignment that the beginning of the Monday assault was caught on video camera. The attackers are seen at a Chinatown Internet cafe “touching the victim repeatedly all over the body, while she pushes them away,” said Assistant District Attorney Amanda Goun.

The boys pulled her onto the street, then to a stairwell of a nearby building where they attacked her, prosecutors said. They stole her phone, credit card and keys and left her there, barely conscious, according to the criminal complaint.

The woman made her way to a nearby deli, her shirt inside out, missing her camisole and underpants, where workers called police. While she was being taken to a hospital, the boys were using her keys to get into her building - but fled when they discovered someone inside, prosecutors said. Police said they also have video of the boys at her apartment.

Erik Pek and Emanuel Burrowes were charged Wednesday with rape, robbery assault and burglary. Sanat Asliev was charged with attempted rape, assault and attempted burglary charges.

Calls to their lawyers were not immediately returned Friday. At their court appearances, Burrowes’ attorney said his client was one month away from completing a program at the home for juvenile delinquents and had just finished ninth grade. Asliev’s attorney said his client came from the former Soviet Union with his family and has had legal trouble and was placed in the home by a family court judge.

A live-in companion of Pek’s mother, Thanh Luu, told The New York Times the boy went to the home as an adolescent. He says the teen didn’t remember the encounter because he had taken drugs.

“I don’t believe any of this,” Luu told the Times. “He would never do something like this.”

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