N.Y. Cops Acquitted of Rape. But Why?

Yesterday, two New York City police officers were acquitted of raping an intoxicated woman. They had been called by a taxi driver who said she was too drunk to get out of his cab and needed help into her apartment. Despite an admission in court by Kenneth Moreno, the officer accused of committing the rape, that he had cuddled with the woman and kissed her on the shoulder while she wore nothing but a bra, Moreno and his partner, Officer Franklin Mata, were convicted only of three counts of official misconduct. Video surveillance showed that they had entered the woman’s apartment four times in four hours.

In his account of the evening, Moreno said he “bonded” with the woman; he said he is a recovering alcoholic who counseled her about alcoholism after she told him her friends were mad at her for drinking too much. He also claimed that she flirted with him after he helped her into her apartment, which led to him cuddling and kissing her.

But is it ever the job of a police officer to counsel someone about alcoholism? Let alone to counsel with cuddles and kisses?  If a severely intoxicated person arrived at a hospital with alcohol poisoning and, after counseling that person about alcoholism, the doctor cuddled and kissed the patient on a hospital bed, the doctor would surely be open to charges of sexual misconduct. Regardless of whether or not penetration took place in the New York case, it is never appropriate–and never a police officer’s job–to sexually touch a person in need of police protection.

The officers’ acquittal has sparked massive outrage, with critics pointing to Officer Moreno’s secretly taped admission to the woman that he wore a condom during sex as sure-fire evidence of his guilt. There was no forensic evidence that sex took place–which could be explained by the use of a condom–but medical experts pointed to a bruise on the victim’s cervix that is consistent with her memory of being raped from behind. Nonetheless, the jury found that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict.

The officers have been fired from the NYPD, however, based on the “official misconduct” verdict. But this case is about more than official misconduct: It’s about a woman’s right not to be sexually assaulted–by anyone, let alone those charged with protecting us. Supporters have organized a protest today at 5 p.m. EST in New York, outside of the Manhattan Criminal Court building. More than 1,000 people have already pledged to attend. Jamia Wilson of the Women’s Media Center explained the need for the demonstration: “No matter what your behavior is, no matter how drunk you are, you shouldn’t call 911 and be assaulted.”

If you can’t make it to the protest, sign this petition. Tell the New York court that sexual assault is never OK.

Photo from Flickr user Joi Ito under Creative Commons 2.0


  1. MrGamma says:

    Party Party… This is dispatch, we’ve got a code 4352-342-234. Some women are drunk and out of control and neighbors have mentioned there is heavy use of narcotics and alcohol.

    Dispatch, this is Chief of Police, I’m on this one.

  2. This is just horrific beyond words. Have to go throw up.

  3. Wake Up says:

    It is horrific. But this tragedy could have been prevented. This woman is putting herself at risk, every time she passes out. Don’t tell me this was her first time. This type of behavior opens a woman to all sorts of predators. As the article noted, she is an alcoholic. This is not a case of a woman having a few drinks. The jury did their job to the best of their ability. But her behavior created reasonable doubt. This doubt is why this crooked cop got away.

    It is really naive to think petitions and outrage will make predators change their ways. Over 70% of rape cases are alcohol-related. What does that tell you? Alcoholism is a terrible disease. It’s time people started treating it as such. I wish Ms magazine would start educating people on this matter.

    • Victim blaming, ftl.

    • Yes, it could have been prevented – if the cops DIDN’T ASSAULT HER. Her being drunk did not create a magic compulsion that forced the cops to break out the condoms – THEY decided how to act.

      This is the same logic that says women have to wear burkas and never leave the house without an escort, because otherwise they might “tempt” someone into attacking them. Even worse, you’re saying that having “a terrible disease” makes someone partly (fully?) responsible for other people’s bad behavior. So, if you are schizophrenic and someone bashes you over the head, I guess it “could have been prevented” if you just stayed home so no one would be compelled to attack you? Don’t keep the predators locked up for everyone’s safety; lock up their victims, shame the victims, and let the predators roam free. Yeah, that makes sense…

      • Miss Peppermint says:

        well, it stands that she was an alcholic , it did cast reasonable doubt and the jury cannot in good faith find them guilty if they are not fully convicted.it is not a big thing, the jury did do their job.In regards to the crooked policemen that dared to touch her.it remains to be seen.

        • SeaShines says:

          How does it stand that she was an alcoholic? She testified that she does not have a drinking problem and if she did, why was the SOBER officer flirting with her, kissing her naked, and oh, let’s not forget raping her? He was in a position of authority and I find his story thoroughly unconvincing. If WE know that the officer admitted it on tape, I don’t know why anyone would argue her credibility here. Either way, it makes no sense. She remembers being raped, she had a bruise consistent with her story, and the officer’s exited and entered her apartment for a 4 hour period. I feel sorry for the victim and the message this sends to other rape victims. I’m sure the evidence wasn’t strong but this sends a bad message. The cop is even quoted as saying that this was a big win and big lesson. I sure hope this isn’t the lesson we want to send to women and men who think they can get away with rape. I’m saddened.

  4. NWOslave says:

    Since no “sex” took place I’m guessing thats the reason for acquittal. If they start convicting a man of rape for not having sex, it’s time to move.

  5. “Yes, it could have been prevented – if the cops DIDN’T ASSAULT HER.”

    So how do you propose we get predators to stop raping drunk women? Do we re-program them? These were cops. Obviously they knew the law and the consequences. I imagine there are more predators out there. Should we send them a memo saying, “It would be really nice if you guys didn’t assault people.” Should we lock up anyone who we think looks like a predator? Should we lock up all the cops? Should we lock up everyone who has a penis?

    “This is the same logic that says women have to wear burkas and never leave the house without an escort”

    So let me get this straight. Suggesting an alcoholic should get treatment is the equivalent of telling women to wear burkas? Is that your logic? This woman’s problems goes past having one too many drinks.

    “if you are schizophrenic and someone bashes you over the head, I guess it “could have been prevented”

    FYI people who suffer from schizophrenia are at greater risk of victimization. Some have a history of sexual abuse and substance abuse. All these factors makes them more vulnerable to rape. Should they stay at home? No. But they should be under someone’s watchful eye and they should be seeking treatment, possibly hospitalization (depending on how severe).

    Any more ridiculous analogies?

  6. snowisfun says:

    If the cops only kissed & cuddled her while she was drunk but didn’t have sex with her, then they’re guilty of lesser crimes but not rape. The jury heard the proof & convicted as they saw fit. Those 2 cops should do jail time & they will never work in a police department again. We must convict people of crimes that they committed & not what they didn’t do. If the jury didn’t believe there’s enough proof the cops had sex with her, then they were right in convicting them of lesser charge.

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