Falsely accused Hofstra rape suspects try to cope
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It wasn't the television cameras or the news conferences that most affected Kevin Taveras Thursday. It was his mail.
The first piece came in an envelope with no return address, and inside was a photocopy of a newspaper story about his arrest for allegedly participating in the gang rape of a female Hofstra University student early Sunday.
Scrawled on the page were the words "Enjoy prison, 25 years? Life?" There was a smiley face next to the words.
"I'm worried," said Kevin's father, Ramiro, 44, a day after his son, 20, was released from a Nassau County jail following his accuser's recanting of her story. "How many people really believe my son is a sex abuser? They have my address. How do I know one of those crazy people won't show up at my door and do something to my child?"
Thursday at the Taveras home in Brentwood, a FedEx truck motored up the street and delivered another letter to Kevin Taveras. This one was from Cablevision, his employer. It announced that he had been fired from his job as a dispatcher because of the "seriousness of the charges," the letter stated.
"Sad," Kevin Taveras said, holding up the letter.
Taveras said he was intent on trying to get his job back - and apparently now he will.
"Our customers and employees come first, and given the serious nature of the initial charges we took this action but clearly stated that if Mr. Taveras was exonerated he would be reinstated; and this evening we are calling him to reinstate him," said Charles Schueler, senior vice president for media/community relations at Cablevision.
The Taveras family wasn't alone in worrying about what the future will bring for the four men arrested on rape charges and later set free.
"Frankly, I just don't know how this will affect him in the future," said Carlos Cruz Jr., an attorney who represents Jesus Ortiz, 19, of the Bronx, who was also released from jail. "He is clearly upset and his family is very upset about what's occurred. We're not that removed from the Duke incident."
Cruz was referring to the controversy that erupted at Duke University in March 2006 when a woman hired to dance at a Duke University lacrosse team party falsely accused men on the team of raping her. Investigators eventually dropped criminal charges against the players, and the men were declared innocent by state prosecutors.
At the Alfa y Omega barbershop in the Bronx, where the only Hofstra student involved in the case, Rondell Bedward, 21, is a regular, barbers and customers watched Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice's news conference announcing why the rape charges were dropped.
"Now everybody is going to look at him like a rapist," said an employee who declined to give his name.
At the Taveras home, Kevin Taveras watched Rice's news conference, too.
"Any time an innocent person has to spend a minute behind bars, it's an injustice," Rice said during a television broadcast.
Kevin Taveras just nodded. His father said he hoped the family could now move forward.
"We're trying to go back to normal and go forward with life," Ramiro Taveras said.
With Sumathi Reddy and Daniel Edward Rosen