Cut Off: Sharpton Severs Ties with Accused Attorney
by Nayaba Arinde and Herb Boyd
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News
News broke Wednesday that the Rev. Al Sharpton would be cutting troubled attorney Sanford Rubenstein lose as rape allegations against the attorney stay in the headlines.
Rubenstein, long noted for representing the aggrieved, now has a lawyer to defend him against charges that he raped a woman in his penthouse apartment on the Upper East Side last week. The alleged incident occurred after Rubenstein and the woman had attended a 60th birthday celebration for Sharpton at the Four Seasons Restaurant Wednesday, Oct. 1.
This week, it was reported that the woman awoke the next morning and had sex for the second time with the attorney, a story that conflicts with an earlier version, in which the victim, in an impaired state, awoke to find the attorney raping her.
Reached by phone Tuesday morning, Sharpton admitted that the woman was a high-ranking official in his National Action Network and was the co-chair of the birthday bash. “She is someone I highly respect and is a very credible person,” he said.
After initially saying that he would not “disparage either party,” as details leaked about bleeding as the rape kit was being administered, used condoms and a sex toy found in the apartment, Sharpton said, “Even if it was consensual, why would he take a key leader of our organization back to his apartment right after a fundraiser? It’s disrespectful to our movement.” Perhaps the real reason for Rubenstein’s ousting is revealed by Sharpton’s statement that “the women in our network are absolutely outraged.”
Representing Rubenstein is famed attorney Benjamin Brafman, who ensured that infamous French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn never stood trial in the 2011 alleged rape of hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo.
While many people have questioned Rubenstein’s perceived penchant for stepping out with very young Black women, for years the septuagenarian attorney, who has won large settlements in several tragic cases involving Black victims, such as the police killings of Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell, has enjoyed a tight relationship with Sharpton’s National Action Network.
Notables who attended Sharpton’s birthday party included Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Aretha Franklin and Spike Lee. Should Rubenstein be indicted, technically they could be called as witnesses during his trial.
Although Rubenstein has not been arrested at press time, cops earlier carried many items of evidence from his East 64th Street apartment, including a mattress.
The victim, who the AmNews is not identifying, has retained the services of lawyers Kenneth Montgomery and Keith White. They told the AmNews that they have submitted significant evidence to the NYPD and District Attorney Cyrus Vance.
The Police Department did not respond to an AmNews request for a statement on the case. Montgomery said that his client is overwrought. “She is trying to weather the reporters and all the other people camped outside her home,” he said of the single mother of a teenage girl and twenty-something man.
The victim’s lawyers and others are questioning why Rubenstein has not been arrested. Montgomery said, “I think it’s politics. I think there is a disparity in how this is being handled versus other cases.” A prominent New York lawyer told the AmNews, “I have certainly represented cases where there has been an arrest with much less evidence than seems to be present here.”