Somehow the case involving two NYPD officers accused of raping a woman while on duty just keeps getting more disturbing. Now a woman says that five months prior to the alleged rape, Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata verbally abused her, shoved her, and refused to let her report a crime. Prosecutors were aware of the incident, but chose not to mention it during the rape trial. One possible reason: No one cares about what a drunk woman has to say.
The Village Voice reports that in August 2008, Mata and Moreno were called to an East Village bar. A 21-year-old college student, who the paper is calling "Caitlin," had been celebrating her upcoming semester abroad in India and got into an argument with a bartender who cut her off. Outside, Caitlin encountered a group of teens who she believes stole her friend's iPhone from her bag. She tried to get back into the bar to report the theft, and someone called the police because she was banging on the door. That's when she had the misfortune of meeting Moreno and Mata:
"They aren't taking me seriously from the beginning," she tells the Voice during an interview at Junior's Restaurant in Brooklyn. "I'm trying to be reasonable and rational, saying my things were stolen, and they are laughing and giggling, patronizing me. So I get upset. They grab me, push me against the car, handcuff me, and put me in the back seat. They aren't taking my report. They also hit my friend."
While she was in the police car, Caitlin says Mata looked through her bag, took out a sanitary pad, and said, "Is this why you're so cranky?"
"I get pissed," she says. "I opened the car door, and he kicked or pushed me back in the door so hard that my glasses fell off. I asked him to get them, and he said, 'You're a smart girl. Get them for yourself.' "
Later, Mata teased her, "You're not going to India now."
Caitlin had no money and no phone, and when she asked a couple for subway fare they called the police. Mata and Moreno showed up again. She tried to report the theft again and said she was stranded. She claims Mata responded by throwing a dollar on the ground and laughing at her.
"I was trying to reason with him earlier, but I was mad that he threw the money on the floor," she says. "He got pissed, pushed me against the car, knocked my friend down, and handcuffed me really hard. He puts me in the car, and drives to the precinct, saying, 'You're going to love sleeping in jail.'"
Caitlin was held overnight and received a summons for disorderly conduct. The officers refused to identify themselves and never read her Miranda rights, even though they held her for several hours. The next day she filed complaints with the Civilian Complaint Review Board and the 9th Precinct stationhouse and an investigator photographed her bruises. She later appeared in court to contest the summons and the charge was dismissed.
Though she was questioned by the prosecutors in the rape case in 2009, her complaint and the theft were never investigated. Caitlin only recognized Moreno and Mata as the officers who harassed her when she saw them on TV after the were acquitted of rape. She called a prosecutor, and he brushed her off, saying her complaint wasn't relevant. She told the Voice:
"I was shocked and upset that they didn't use my case in the trial ... My case could have helped. You had another example of severe misconduct involving the same officers-abuse of power, involving the opposite sex, a vulnerable victim. It shows a pattern of misconduct."
When asked for comment by the paper, Chad Siegel, Moreno's lawyer, said he wasn't aware of Caitlin's story. Yet, he was quick to discredit her, saying, "It sounds like someone who is disorderly got arrested and now wants to capitalize on what happened. It sounds like sour grapes to me." Edward Mandery, Mata's lawyer, noted that Caitlin had been drinking:
"She's in a bar, they are refusing to serve her, what does that tell you? The D.A. left no stone unturned in this case, and they didn't feel this was in any way relevant. There's a reason for that."
Yes, there is a reason for that: Once a woman takes a drink, you just can't trust anything she says — even if she claims she was abused by police officers hours after she stopped drinking.
Mata and Moreno's Previous Late-Night Incident [Village Voice]