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Man falsely accused in rape settles suit

Hofstra student Rondell Bedward, 21, of the Bronx,

Hofstra student Rondell Bedward, 21, of the Bronx, was cleared of all charges after a Hofstra student's rape claim was proven false a source said. Photo Credit: NCPD

A former Hofstra University student has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit against a woman who falsely accused him and four other men of raping her in a dormitory bathroom in 2009, attorneys in the case said Monday.

The lawyers for Rondell Bedward, 24, of the Bronx, and the accuser, Danmell Ndonye, 21, of Washington Heights, would not discuss the terms of the settlement.

The case, which was heard by U.S. District Judge Leonard Wexler, ended Monday morning, minutes before Ndonye was to take the stand.

In addition to Ndonye, Bedward had initially sued Nassau County, the Nassau district attorney's office and the Nassau County Police Department for $70 million, saying that those agencies violated his civil and constitutional rights when they arrested him on first-degree rape charges in September 2009.

Last week, he withdrew claims against those agencies, all of which had denied any wrongdoing, attorneys said.

None of the other men have filed civil lawsuits in the case.

Asked in court last week whether he had raped Ndonye, Bedward told his lawyer, "That never happened, ma'am." Still, he said he regretted the incident, during which four of his friends had sexual encounters with Ndonye and he videotaped them with his cellphone.

"It was a situation we all put ourselves in, and a situation I still regret 1,000 percent," Bedward said in court. He declined to comment through his lawyer, Valerie Cartright, of Hempstead, after the settlement Monday, and Cartright said only that it was resolved to their "mutual satisfaction."

"We're glad this saga is finally over," said Ndonye's lawyer, Stephen Jackson, of Manhattan. Ndonye declined to comment.

Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli said the county was vindicated. He said it was clear that police had probable cause to arrest the men, and the district attorney acted responsibly in investigating, then dismissing the case.

Referring to the video, he said, "I think it's fair to say that the plaintiff was not going to appear sympathetic to any jury."

Bedward and three of his friends, none of whom attended Hofstra, Kevin Taveras, 20, of Brentwood, Stalin Felipe, 19, and Jesus L. Ortiz, 19, both of the Bronx, were arrested after Ndonye told police that one of them had snatched her cellphone to lure her into a Hofstra dorm, then all of them had tied her up and raped her in a bathroom stall.

A fifth man authorities said was involved was never arrested.

Prosecutors said Ndonye recanted after learning of the videotape.

Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice agreed not to prosecute Ndonye if she admitted she lied, got psychological help, and did 250 hours of community service, prosecutors said at the time.

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