Officers aquitted of rape but is faith in the law restored?
Comment on and summary of of story from The New York Times, May 26, 2011
Today, two New York City police officers were found not guilty of raping a woman in her apartment.
For officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata, the verdict must bring some degree of relief. However, the acquittal doesn’t restore my faith in the law.
It’s difficult to establish exactly what took place on the night in question. The woman who accused the officers was drunk and had only a foggy recollection of events.
However, she said she remembered the sound of police radios, velcro tearing open, her tights being rolled down and then being penetrated as she lay, face down on her bed.
Yet despite her claim there was no DNA evidence to reinforce it. One of the key pieces of prosecution evidence, a secretly recorded conversation in which Moreno admitted to wearing a condom, was dismissed by the defence.
Moreno’s alledged confession was preceded by repeated denials that any sexual act had taken place. His lawyers argued that he had then been forced to lie in order to prevent the woman from making a scene in his precinct station house.
However, Moreno did admit to snuggling with the woman on her bed while she had only worn a bra. During his admission he claimed that he had developed a rapport with her.
He said that the two of them had flirted and that she’d come onto him wearing nothing but a bra. It led to him kissing her on the forehead and cuddling with her in bed, but Moreno insisted that the two of them did not have sex.
Surveillance cameras captured images of the officers re-entering the woman’s apartment three times after initially helping the woman to enter it. Officer Mata had been charged with standing guard while the act took place.
In the end the jury convicted both officers of three counts of official misconduct for entering the woman’s apartment, but found them not guilty of all other charges.
I don’t know what took place between the officers and the woman that night. I’d like to think that the judge and the jury when presented with the facts, came to the correct decision. But there’s something that doesn’t sit right in my stomach here.
Whatever the officers’ reasons, a definite violation did take place. A violation of the code of conduct that they should have obeyed. It’s part of what enables society to trust the law in its most vulnerable moments, and this verdict has done nothing to repair that for me.