After seven days of deliberation, a jury acquitted two New York City police officers of felony charges of rape, burglary and falsifying business records for the alleged assault on a drunken 27-year-old woman they helped escort home.
Although cleared of the felony charges, the Courthouse News Service reported that the two officers, Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata, were found guilty of three misdemeanor charges for official misconduct and will be fired from the New York Police Department.
Both men face up to one year in jail.
“We respect the jury’s verdict, which acknowledges that the defendants’ actions that night not only violated the law, they violated the victim’s rights, and the public’s trust,” District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said. “I thank our prosecutors, Coleen Balbert and Randolph Clarke Jr., who worked tirelessly on this case. I also commend the bravery of the victim in coming forward, and in persevering through an often grueling and very public nine-week trial.”
The jury found the officers had broken the law by entering a woman’s apartment multiple times without alerting their patrol in December 2008. Moreno admitted during trial that he faked a 911 call to return to the victim’s residence. A surveillance camera caught the officers entering the victim’s building three times.
Moreno claimed that he returned to her residence multiple times to check on her condition privately and counsel her about her drinking problem while his partner took a nap in the living room.
The woman, who said she was slipping in and out of consciousness, testified that she woke up to Moreno raping her and was too drunk to resist. Prosecutors claimed that Moreno’s partner, Mata, stood guard in the living room.
The woman later confronted Moreno at the police precinct, where she secretly recorded him saying that he had used a condom during that night.
Defense attorneys for Moreno claimed there was a lack of forensic evidence linking him to the alleged sexual assault.
A number of New York City residents angry with the acquittal are planning to protest in front of the Manhattan Criminal Court building on Friday.
“Join us in protest,” the Facebook page of the protest states. “Because raping a drunk women while on patrol is more than ‘official misconduct.’ Because calling 911 should not be an invitation to be raped. Because NO behavior, including being drunk, is an invitation to be raped.”
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