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Elmwood Park Quartet In Video Sex Assault Offered No-Prison Plea Deals

Jacardi Barnes, Ashari Wilson, Justin Draper, Craig Howe and their attorneys. Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Kristin DeMarco Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia
Craig Howe with his attorney in court in Hackensack. Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia

ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. -- Three former Elmwood Park High School players and a fourth defendant were offered reduced plea deals that carry no prison time if they admit videotaping themselves having sex with a drunken 15-year-old girl.

All four were brought into court in Hackensack on Monday for re-arraignment on a new indictment that prosecutors obtained after a judge threw out the first one over technical problems with the video, which froze during a key moment in the presentation.

They also offered three-year suspended state prison sentences to former footballers Ashari Wilson, Craig Howe and Justin Draper -- all 19 years old -- and to a fourth man, 18-year-old Jacardi Barnes, in exchange for guilty pleas to child endangerment.

If they accept, they will go onto parole supervision for life -- and could immediately be sent to prison if they violate any of the provisions. They also would have to register as sex offenders under Megan's Law.

Recorded on an iPhone by Wilson, the video contains 45 to 60 seconds of an assault, authorities said.

The girl was taken to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center after her parents found her unconscious on their front lawn on June 21, 2014, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said at the time.

Her blood-alcohol content was 0.27, he said.

The sex took place earlier in the Falmouth Avenue backyard of a home that Howe and Draper shared, the prosecutor added.

A friend reported seeing a video of her on Wilson’s phone “engaging in sexual activity on that date with several men while she appeared to be highly intoxicated,” Molinelli said at the time.

Detectives then interviewed the girl and her friend, he said.

“The victim provided limited information regarding her recollection of that date and her friend described what she observed on the phone,” Molinelli said. “That video was subsequently recovered by detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Unit."

All four defendants remained free on bails ranging from $82,500 to $150,000.

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