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Charges dropped against Astoria man in Brooklyn sex assault

TimesLedger Newspapers

Police dropped sex crime charges Wednesday against Joshua Flecha, a 32-year-old Astoria resident originally accused of being one of the Brooklyn gropers, the NYPD said.

Officers originally arrested Flecha early Monday morning after they allegedly found him with pot in Brooklyn, but sexual abuse and forcible touching was added to that charge when a woman picked him out in a police lineup as the man who groped her near an entrance to the F line’s Smith and 9th Street station in May, police said.

The woman later recanted her identification of Flecha, police said.

“I’m not sure any more, don’t call me again,” the woman allegedly told the police, the New York Post reported.

The NYPD has been investigating a pattern of sex crimes in Brooklyn that have taken place from March 11 to Oct. 13 and believe as many as four perpetrators could be involved, police said.

Flecha still faces a criminal possession of marijuana charge, police said.

Officers first saw Flecha while patrolling Greenwood Avenue in Brooklyn Monday at 2:30 a.m. between East 4th Street and East 5th Street in Windsor Terrace, police said. At 3:15 a.m., the same team of officers saw Flecha on 17th Street between 10th and 11th avenues walking slowly along a line of parked cars and approached him, thinking he was planning to break into them, police said.

When officers told Flecha to put his hands on one of the parked cars, they are reported to have found him with marijuana, with his pants unzipped and with a pornographic video playing on the cell phone he was holding, police said. He was originally suspected of being one of the gropers because he resembled a suspect sketch in the May incident, police said.

Flecha, who works as a bartender at Heartland Brewery in Manhattan, told the Post that the situation was “torture” as he was leaving Brooklyn Supreme Court Thursday.

“I don’t know how to deal with the situation,” Flecha told the Post. “I’m just trying to clear my name. I’m 100 percent innocent.”

An unnamed law enforcement official characterized the false arrest of Flecha as a major setback in the search for the Brooklyn sex crime perpetrators, the Post reported.

“That’s going to put a lot of pressure on the Police Department,” the official told the Post. “Now the next person they arrest, the credibility of the victim will be under a microscope.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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