Despite an overwhelming amount of evidence that suggests a New York police officer raped a woman in her apartment while his partner stood guard, today the two men were cleared of all charges except three counts of "official misconduct." The outcome is profoundly disturbing, and sends the message that if a woman decides to go through the horrific ordeal of prosecuting her attackers, she still won't get justice — particularly if she's accusing two NYPD officers.
In December 2008, officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata responded to a 911 call from a cab driver who had an intoxicated woman in his car. The 27-year-old woman had gone to a Brooklyn bar to celebrate her recent promotion with friends. The officers took her back to her apartment where, she threw up and then blacked out. The N.Y. Daily News reports:
She said the officer tried to lift her up before she blacked out. When she woke she was in bed and heard sounds of "Velcro ripping" and realized "somebody was rolling my tights down my legs." Then, she said, it happened.
"I woke up to being penetrated from behind," she said. "I woke up because the action of his penetration was so hard that my head was moving toward the window [at the head of her bed] like it was going to go through it."
The woman said she had no way to fight back "because I was so intoxicated, I was dead weight ...I couldn't say or do anything."
Surveillance footage shows the officers returned to her apartment three times that night, and there's a recording of a fake 911 call they made to justify going back to the apartment. The defense claims that on their fourth visit the woman "became flirtatious" and Moreno "succumbed" to physical contact with. He says that he cuddled with her in bed while she was wearing only a bra, but they didn't have intercourse.
One juror told the New York Times today that they found the men not guilty on the more serious charges because there wasn't enough evidence:
"I did think that they might have had sex, but that doesn't mean that they did have sex," he said. "There is nothing to substantiate this. There's no DNA, there's no proof in any way that they had sex."
Yes, the woman took a shower the next morning, so there's absolutely no way to know what happened. Well ... there are plenty of other facts that could convince a reasonable person that the woman is telling the truth, but as numerous media reports have reminded us, she allowed herself to get drunk, so we can't trust a damn thing she says.
The idea was brought up during the trial that the woman might have been sober enough to consent to sex, yet the defense tried to discredit all of her testimony because she couldn't remember pieces of the night. How was she capable of consent if she was unconscious, and so intoxicated that her narrative is unreliable?
This has been portrayed as a case of "he said, she said," but there's other evidence besides the testimony of the woman and the two officers. With the help of prosecutors, she confronted Moreno outside his precinct while wearing a recording device. He repeatedly told her that nothing happened, then admitted that they "had sex," and he used a condom. Apparently the jury believes he only made this confession because he wanted her to stop making a scene. The condom would explain why there was no DNA found, but there were other indications that she was raped. A forensic examiner said there was bruising on the victim's cervix that confirmed her claim that she was attacked from behind. The defense tried to explain this away by calling the bruise a "minor blemish," and suggesting that it could have come from a venereal disease or injury during a "vigorous shower scrubbing."
Of course, there's no mention of the taped confession or the bruising in the article the Times ran today on the officer's acquittal. However, the paper does refer to the victim as the "drunken woman" and rehash of just how inebriated she was the night. The article also says:
After the verdict, Officer Moreno said in front of the courthouse that his accuser was "mistaken and confused," and that "she made the whole thing up."
But the officer, who appeared tense and tight-faced, also said he was not angry.
"I'm glad it's over," he said. "It's a lesson and a win."
When a reporter asked Officer Moreno what he meant by lesson, his lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, interjected, saying, "Well, we'll just leave it at that."
Yeah, you definitely don't want your client to elaborate on what that chilling comment meant.
The officers were fired by the NYPD today and are facing up to a year in jail on each count. The case may be over after sentencing next month, but some people are refusing to accept the "lesson" from this case; a demonstration will take place today in front of the courthouse from 5 pm to 7 pm. The protesters are demanding that the NYPD institute comprehensive training on rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment, and institute a zero-tolerance policy for when those acts are committed by officers. It won't make today's verdict any less enraging, but they hope it will send the message that, "the people of NYC will not accept victim-blaming, cronyism, and a culture of silence that allows rapists to roam free, without consequence."
Accuser In Kenneth Moreno, Franklin Mata 'Rape Cops' Details Alleged Attack On Stand [N.Y. Daily News]
In Rape Case, Court Is Told Police Officer Didn't Have Sex [NYT]
Two New York City Police Officers Acquitted Of Rape [NYT]
Bruising Testimony Battle At "Rape Cops" Trial [N.Y. Post]
PROTEST THE ACQUITTAL OF TWO NEW YORK CITY COPS FOR RAPE [Facebook]