A Derry family have said they are “living a nightmare” following the arrest of 22 year-old Creggan man Damien McGuinness on a rape charge in New York.
McGuinness, who has been working in New York as a bartender, has appeared before a Criminal Court in the city charged with the rape of a 22 year-old woman following his arrest in the early hours of Thursday morning last week.
His distraught parents flew out to be at his side last weekend. McGuinness is strenuously denying the charges against him.
A spokesperson for the family told the ‘Journal’; “I know Damien as a really lovely and decent young man .
“He has the support of his extended family circle and everyone’s working hard to support him in his efforts to fight this charge. As you can imagine this is a very difficult time for everyone, not least his parents, who have flown out to be with him.”
The Manhattan court heard last Friday that the alleged victim told police she had consensual sex with a friend of Damien McGuinness. She claimed that McGuinness then forced himself on her. She contacted police as soon as McGuinness and his friend left her apartment, telling the police the men had thick Irish accents.
The court heard the pair were stopped by police at a nearby subway station a very short time later. Both were arrested. However, the second man was later released and is not facing charges.
During the court hearing, assistant district attorney John Temple said; “What started out as a consensual encounter between the defendant’s friend and the complaining witness ended with the defendant raping (her).”
McGuinness’s court-appointed lawyer Brad Sage said that the second man had told detectives that anything that transpired was consensual and that he was the only other witness to the incident.
Police sources were quoted in New York newspapers as saying the alleged victim was visiting New York from another state. She and a friend met the two men in a bar on the East side of Manhattan and all four went back to the friend’s apartment, not far from Columbia University. The alleged incident happened at around 4.45am. One report said the two men were stopped by police at around 5.15am.
At Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday, the case against McGuinness was adjourned until September 12 to allow the prosecution more time to investigate the allegations.
The Irish Voice reported that Damien McGuinness had been working as a bartender in Dalton’s Bar and Grill in Hell’s Kitchen. The paper quoted a co-worker as saying he was “a great guy and a great friend” - “they all love him here and we just hope he comes out of this, we want it all to end now.”
The paper quoted his younger sister Mikayla McGuinness as saying she hoped the investigation would be sorted out soon.
“My brother is such a gentleman,” she said. “My family are distraught with this appalling news. It’s so heart-breaking knowing that my big brother is stuck in jail and is being accused of being a ‘rapist’.”