The New Post by LIZ SADLER - January 30, 2010
The city appointed two crooked cops to an elite task force and failed to properly train or supervise them, setting the stage for the sexual assault of a teenage girl, her lawyer charged yesterday. Officers Andrew Johnson and Donald Nelson picked up a high-school senior on an East Flatbush street corner in 2006 for allegedly playing hooky and drove her home. Hours later, Johnson, then an eight-year NYPD veteran assigned to the Brooklyn narcotics division, returned to the apartment in his own car and molested her, lawyer Seth Harris told jurors in his opening statement in Brooklyn Supreme Court. "He takes up his right hand and waves a gun in front of her face. At that point, for a few moments, she stops resisting because she's terrified by the sight of this gun," Harris said. "He pulls down her pants, touches her breasts and private parts." The girl, now 21, and her mother are suing the city and both officers for $5 million. Nelson, 39, and the city have denied the suit's allegations. Johnson, who pleaded guilty to official misconduct in the criminal case and was conditionally discharged, did not answer the civil complaint and faces a default judgment. Defense lawyer Gail Goode conceded that Johnson is "a dog, a bad cop" and "a bad husband" but said he alone was to blame for the incident. Goode also questioned the girl's claim that she suffered severe psychological damage from the assault, noting that she failed to immediately report it to her mom, who returned home less than two minutes later. "You have just, for 14 minutes, had a guy pull a gun on you, a guy on top of you, a guy unbutton your blouse -- for 14 minutes -- and what do you say?" Goode said in her opening statement. "'Hi, Mama, how was your day?' " Harris said the girl, now a college student, gave up modeling after the assault and was abandoned by friends who didn't believe her story. He said Johnson, who had been placed on modified duty in 2004 for allowing a prisoner to escape and failing to report it, and Nelson, who had been suspended and arrested in 2000 for soliciting an undercover cop posing as a prostitute, never should have been chosen for the special unit. "These guys are on the job, looking for girls -- that's what they're doing," Harris said. Nelson, who is still a cop in Brooklyn, sat stone-faced in the front row of the courtroom. Harris said Johnson is believed to be living in Florida.