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Park Rape Case: Whose Hoax?

May 23, 1994

Last week, Police Commissioner William Bratton finally did it. He finally, officially and on the record, said that forensic evidence indicates the Prospect Park rape case is not a hoax - despite two reports to the contrary by Daily News columnist Mike McAlary.

McAlary contends that a high-level police source told him a lab report found no indication of semen - a fact police have also contradicted. Bratton confirmed two lab reports were done, saying the second was necessary because Chief of Detectives Joe Borrelli was "confused" by the medical jargon in the first.

Well, Borrelli isn't the only one confused. The day before, McAlary telephoned this reporter to say he'd based both his columns on information from Borrelli. Borrelli said, "I haven't spoken to Mike McAlary in I don't know how many years. When was the last time you heard of a reporter giving up a source?" Borrelli then called John Miller, the deputy commissioner for public information, who called McAlary. Later, McAlary called back. "What I said was a joke," McAlary said. "Borrelli wasn't the source."

Last week, Bratton said he wasn't the source; Miller said he wasn't either. In an opinion column in Wednesday's New York Newsday, freelance writer Printable versionGabriel Rotello quoted Miller saying that after McAlary's first column was contradicted by the lab reports, McAlary called Miller. They're friends and spend time with Bratton at Elaine's. Rotello quoted Miller saying McAlary asked him: "Can you bail me out? Can you lock (knock) this story down?"

Now this is where things really get confusing. McAlary denied ever saying this to Miller and Miller told a roomful of reporters and his boss he never said that to Rotello. "I actually didn't say any of those things to him because no such calls occurred and I don't know where he got that or how he extrapolated it from the conversation I had with him," he said.

Rotello, though, taped his conversation with Miller. What Miller says on Rotello's tape is just what Rotello wrote in his column.
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© 1994 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.