Today, activists are protesting the acquittal of two New York City police officers who were accused of raping a woman in her apartment. Despite evidence that one officer raped the woman in her apartment while his partner stood guard outside her door, a jury found them not guilty of all charges, except three counts of “official misconduct.”
The incident dates back to December 2008 when Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata responded to a 911 call from a taxicab driver who complained of having an intoxicated woman in his car. The 27-year-old woman was on her way home from a bar where she was celebrating a new promotion. After being carried into her apartment by the officers, the woman threw up and blacked out. When she finally regained consciousness, shen claims one of the cops, Officer Moreno, was raping her.
The New York 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.”
Despite surveillance footage showing the officers retuned to the woman’s apartment three times during the same night, and a recording of a fake 911 call that attempted to justify the officers’ return, one juror said there wasn’t enough evidence to find the officers guilty.
“I did think that they might have had sex, but that doesn’t mean that they did have sex,” the juror told the New York Times. “There is nothing to substantiate this. There’s no DNA, there’s no proof in any way that they had sex.”
Officer Moreno’s attorney claims the woman “became flirtatious” during one of the officers’ visits that evening and his client “succumbed” to the woman’s advances. Officer Moreno’s lawyer claims his client and the victim cuddled together in bed, but did not have intercourse.
Because the woman took a shower before alerting authorities of the rape there was no DNA evidence to support her claim. However, the fact that she was intoxicated to the point of blacking out indicates that she was unable to consent to intercourse, which the defense also made mention of to the jury.
Aside from the repeated visits to the woman’s home and the faked 911 call, other evidence also supported the woman’s claim she was raped.
Jezebel’s Margaret Hartmann writes:
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.”
After the verdict Officer Moreno said the victim was “mistaken and confused,” and that “she made the whole thing up.”
Activists are concerned with message this verdict sends—that rape is still a woman’s fault. The officers’ defense attorneys repeatedly asserted that the victim flirted with the officer and that her account of the night’s events was unreliable because she was too intoxicated to remember some of the details.
Despite the not-guilty verdict, however, both officers were fired from the police force and may face up to a year in jail on the “official misconduct” charges. The victim is also suing both officers in civil court for $57 million.