A 27-year-old Racine, Wisconsin woman claims that she was looking for work in New York and found an advertisement that New York resident John Hopkins, a 45-year old audio engineer originally from Kansas, posted on Craigslist, listing a room for rent. The pair agreed that the woman could stay rent free if she cooked and cleaned for Hopkins. But this is not the full story…
The accuser apparently knew Hopkins much earlier than she told police, because e-mail exchanges go back to December 2009. On December 27, 2010, the accuser sent Hopkins an e-mail: “I wish nothing more than to serve your every demand (and maybe forcedly…) … I want nothing more than to please you, Master.”
Hopkins paid for her airfare to New York on February 4, 2011. Hopkins picked her up at Kennedy Airport, and brought her to his place on Humboldt Street in East Williamsburg (Brooklyn).
Upon arriving at his apartment, Hopkins allegedly told the woman that she was going to be his slave. The next day, the accuser sent an e-mail: “I yearn to serve my Master better. Can i cook for you tomarrow? I love you so much.” The letter was signed “sub,” apparently for the S&M term submissive.
The woman claims she was repeatedly orally and anally raped between February 4 and February 12, and was also tied with a rope, gagged and handcuffed to a radiator. Hopkins was only allowing her to leave for her job as a chef at an Upper East Side Manhattan restaurant. Why she returned to the apartment is unclear.
On the ninth day, she said she managed to call her mother in Racine (some sources say she used e-mail, and still others say Hopkins is the one who called) and alert her of the alleged abuse. The woman told her mother she was going to kill herself because she couldn’t bear to be locked up anymore. Why the woman called her mother but did not alert police when she was at her job or call 911 instead of her mother remains a mystery.
The mother, who lives in Racine County, contacted contacted a relative of Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth. The sheriff called Sgt. Steve Beranis, who was on duty. Beranis contacted New York police, who found the Racine woman and her alleged abuser, John Hopkins, in his apartment. Police found the woman bruised and bound. Authorities said the victim was shaking and had marks on her body.
The woman — whose name has not been released — was treated for injuries, including rectal hemorrhaging and bruising, at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. The woman’s blood alcohol content was two and a half times the legal limit to drive more than four hours after she went to the hospital, where records noted she was suffering from a “severe degree of [alcohol] poisoning.”
Authorities charged Hopkins on Monday, February 14, with rape, assault, forcible touching and unlawful imprisonment, arresting him at his Brooklyn apartment on Saturday, February 12. He was being held on $350,000 bail. Legal Aid was listed as his defense.
Hopkins was arrested in 2004 for misdemeanor assault in a domestic violence incident, but the case was dropped.
Carol D’Auria of 1010 WINS spoke to Nestor Cardenas, a neighbor who lives in the same apartment building. He called Hopkins a very strange man. “He’s just always mumbling things. He’s always been weird,” he said. Another neighbor, Lizzy Lopez, said Hopkins didn’t look like a person who could be trusted. “He looks weird and like snotty. He don’t say ‘hi’ to nobody,” she said.
Hopkins appeared in court Friday, February 18, for a preliminary hearing. His attorney, Andrew Stoll, made the case that the alleged abuse was agreed upon, using the e-mails as evidence. “It is plain [from the e-mails] these were consensual acts performed by two adults who freely entered into a voluntary, mutually fulfilling relationship,” he said. “All of the acts in question were consensual acts between two adults who freely agreed to every aspect of their relationship… These accusations only arose when my client called the complainant’s mother, to tell her that her daughter needed some emotional help, and should probably go back home.”
Reporters from the New York Daily News spoke to Hopkins at the George Motchan Detention Center on Rikers Island on February 19, with the jailed man wearing a gray jumpsuit. He told them that the accuser had posted an ad on Craigslist, not him, and it had asked for “a kinky hook-up”. “I didn’t rape her. Everything we did was role-playing,” he said. “In the game of role-play, the ‘slave’ actually has the power… Everything they’re saying I did was consensual. She could have left if she wanted to, but she didn’t.”
Hopkins said his kinky sex games with the 27-year-old Midwest woman continued until a few weeks ago when she started drinking heavily. She left his home, was then kicked out of her friend’s apartment on the upper West Side and claimed she crashed in Central Park one night, where she was attacked, Hopkins said. “I’m convinced those are where the scratches came from,” he said. “I didn’t do any of that.”
Hopkins said the woman returned to his place Friday where she downed half a bottle of vodka. He said he phoned her mother to tell her the situation and she spoke to her daughter, a sushi chef, for half an hour. When they hung up, her mother then called the cops and Hopkins was swiftly arrested, Hopkins said. “I got railroaded,” he said. “A woman says anything happened to them in New York State, and they believe her and not the man. It’s not fair.”
Hopkins was indicted on 62 counts on February 24 in Kings County, including rape in the first degree, unlawful imprisonment in the second degree, assault in the second degree and assault in the second degree as a sexually motivated felony.
On Friday, March 11, Hopkins pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him. “It stretches credibility beyond the breaking point to say that from the get-go, she was being held against her will,” said his attorney, Andrew Stoll. “I cannot imagine there will be a conviction here.” Stoll pointed to e-mails showing the two knew each other for two years, and the fact the woman returned to Hopkins’ apartment after she was kicked out for excessive drinking.
But Assistant District Attorney Christopher Laline said in court that Hopkins “set up slave rules” for her, along with a list of punishments if she disobeyed, including flogging her and chaining her to a radiator, forcing her to drink water and preventing her from using the bathroom, and sexually molesting her. “This is a heinous crime,” Laline said. At one point they claim she broke her hand while trying to free herself.
Judge Patricia DiMango denied Stoll’s request to reduce Hopkins’ $350,000 bail and said that the defendant’s alleged treatment of the woman could be considered criminal even if it was consensual. “We’re dealing with two individuals with varying degrees of mental instabilities. In these types of situations, with the facts presented by both sides, both the consensual and criminal can co-exist. At some point, it can change to a situation where no means no,” DiMango said. “There comes a time when they’re not playful fun anymore and they become dangerous — criminally dangerous.”
On Wednesday, June 15, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Patricia DiMango — who noted, “I’m not an expert in this area” — said all sides concede the kinky relationship was consensual. The question at trial, she added, was whether the woman ever said “No.”
Prosecutor Christina Fay said the alleged victim had left town. “Is she coming back?” asked Justice DiMango. There was no answer. “You don’t know?” DiMango said. She may possibly have been in a rehab facility.
Defense attorney Stoll asked DiMango to reduce Hopkins’ $350,000 bail based on the unreliability of the alleged victim. “This case is profoundly weak,” defense lawyer Andrew Stoll said. “The complainant has now demonstrated her unreliability.” DiMango initially offered to drop the bail to $200,000 cash or a $350,000 bond, but left the higher bail in effect after Stoll called it “punitive.”
DiMango ordered the case back for trial in two weeks and asked Fay whether she would have the alleged victim in court to testify. Fay, sounding less than confident that she could conjure up the complaint, said, “I will almost make every effort to try.”
On Thursday, June 30, Hopkins was released from jail after prosecutors said that the accuser had returned to Wisconsin and refused to come to New York to testify. “The complaining witness expressed some reluctance to go forward,” Fay said. Hopkins walked out of court hand-in-hand with his sister, an Episcopalian minister and former assistant district attorney in Maryland. “Innocent people get accused of crimes,” Hopkins’ lawyer Andrew Stoll reportedly said. “Everyone should know that.” But this was not the end — Hopkins was not being acquitted, but simply released from jail.
The case is scheduled to go to court on September 20…