160 years for serial rapist
A man accused of sexually assaulting three women during a sick 2008 robbery spree could face 160 years in jail for his crimes, prosecutors announced this week.
On Aug. 4, Erick Lewis, 23, was convicted of rape in the first degree, robbery in the first degree, sex abuse and other crimes for his activities in Crown Heights beginning on Jan. 17, 2008, where he followed a woman into the laundry room of her Crown Heights apartment building and tried to force her into performing oral sex on him.
About eight months later, Lewis upgraded to robbery, said prosecutors, who linked him to a sex assault in a second neighborhood building on Aug. 17 of that year.
Police charge that Lewis pulled a gun on his victim inside a building elevator and then raped and robbed her.
A month later, he grabbed a third woman in another nearby building elevator and forced her into performing oral sex on him.
He was taken in custody a short time later, charged with the attempted sex assault, police said.
Evidence collected from the floor of the elevator used in the last attack connected him to the two earlier incidents, prosecutors alleged at court.
Congress does not have to pay Brooklyn’s Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, more commonly known as ACORN, a thin dime, an appeals judge ruled last week — a surprise decision that may leave the scandal-scarred not-for-profit gasping for financial relief.
On Aug. 13, a decision in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan rescinded an order from U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon demanding that Congress continue to fund the non-profit.
She determined Congress had violated the group’s rights by killing their funding without a legal basis after group was dragged through the political mud last year.
The group found itself embroiled in a scandal when employees from their Brooklyn office were videotaped giving financial advice to a couple pretending to be a pimp and his prostitute.
Once the embarrassment was made public, Congress, spurred on by Nebraska U.S. Senator Mike Johanns, voted to suspend its annual funding to ACORN, which provides housing assistance for impoverished families.
The group countered by suingCongress, demanding that their funding be reinstated.
The lawsuit, filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, claimed that poor people would suffer from the group’s lack of federal dollars, $53 million of which ACORN has received since 1994.
Attorneys also claimed ACORN shouldn’t be penalized because they haven’t been convicted of a anything. After an investigation, the Kings County District Attorney’s office determined the agency never did anything criminal by giving financial advice to the bogus pimp and street walker.
Yet the appeals court said it was OK for Congress to shut off their cash spigot since only 10 percent of the group’s funding comes from federal dollars.
“We doubt that the direct consequences of the appropriations laws temporarily precluding ACORN from federal funds were so disproportionately severe or so inappropriate as to constitute punishment,” the appeals panel determined.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is demanding the appeals court rehears the case.
“We cannot let Congress be pushed around by the right-wing media machine into becoming prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner of politically unpopular people or organizations,” Center attorney Bill Quigley told reporters after the decision was rendered.
No matter what happens, ACORN’s reputation appears to have been seriously damaged —— in fact, the group’s Brooklyn office has changed its name to “New York Communities for Change.”