Rape Cop Reactions: Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata Got Off, But Won't Be Forgotten

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We watched the rape trial of NYPD officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata with our eyes half-covered, anticipating ugliness. And indeed it was icky, with slut-shaming and anything else to undermine the accuser. Yesterday came the verdict -- not guilty -- for the most serious charges, and the reactions have poured in ever since, not doing much to still the stomach-rumblings of those who feel that justice was not done, or that a woman was wronged despite her braveness to follow-through with a case against a powerful police department. Women in general cannot trust those in this city sworn to protect them, some argue. And even some jurors admit to feeling conflicted. It's over now, but not everyone is done processing.

Today's edition of the New York Times features words from the jurors, who did not find beyond a reasonable doubt that a rape occurred. "None of us believed anything that anyone said," one explained. "We have no proof. We're talking about the letter of the law."

Three jurors at one point believed the officers were guilty, while nine did not. "Both his and her stories were full of holes," a juror explained. "And the law says, our good government says, innocent until proven guilty."

DNA was missing, the taped confession by Moreno in which he admitted to wearing a condom was under some duress, and the woman was very drunk, the jurors said. "I definitely thought some funny business went on," an alternate juror who saw the evidence said. "Is it possible they raped her? Sure."

There is a demonstration planned for tonight to protest the verdict. Here, it is hard to differentiate between attacking a jury with a task no one would envy and expressing anger, publicly, over a disgusting case overall. At the Daily Beast, Jesse Ellison explains the anger of many, not directed at the jury:

There is no reason a police officer should enter an intoxicated woman's apartment. If she's so intoxicated that the officer thinks he needs to help her to bed, she's intoxicated enough that the officer should call an ambulance instead. But more importantly: a man who spoons in bed with a virtual stranger--a woman who a short while earlier had been so intoxicated that her driver felt compelled to call 911 is--at the very least, incredibly creepy. The fact that in this case the person in question was wearing a badge and carrying a gun shouldn't absolve him of guilt. If anything, it should make him even guiltier.

Ellison also tells the story of a friend who says she was raped under similar circumstances, but declined to push the case:

We understood when our friend declined to press on. We've all seen what happens in cases like this--accusers' lives and sexual histories are made public and dissected; even their underpants become part of the public record. Continuing on would have meant remaining immersed in a traumatic experience that she was ready to put behind her.

But Ellison writes that, seven years later, her friend "still says she would never call the cops for help." She concludes: "It raises a terrifying question if we can't feel safe with the people we pay to protect us, are we ever safe at all?"

In today's New York Post, Andrea Peyser has a column called "It's open season for predators in uniform." She makes a similar argument and writes, "There is no justice for drunk women."

The nonsensical verdict ignored every piece of evidence against the men, who found the drunk woman spilling out of a taxi near her Manhattan apartment. The cops then called 911 to report a fictitious suspicious person in her building, so they would have an excuse to enter, and re-enter, the vomit-soaked lady's place.

Moreno admitted canoodling the drunk gal, and singing Bon Jovi tunes. Later, when the woman demanded to know if both men raped her, Moreno replied, "It was only me." He said he wore a condom, an exchange caught on audiotape.

"The fabric of trust that existed between women and the police has been shredded to bits," she concludes.

Today's demonstration is more about this feeling of betrayal -- plus, Moreno and Mata's clear violations of the standards of their profession -- than about shaming the jury. Here are the demands, as listed on Change.org. They are not unreasonable:

1. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly must institute sustained and comprehensive trainings for every incoming class of officers on rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and proper police conduct. A single training session, or a simplistic lecture not to rape, is NOT acceptable.

2. The NYPD must institute a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexualized behavior while on the job. While this case illustrates an extreme example of police officers using their power to abuse women, too many of us have witnessed officers behaving in sexually inappropriate ways while on the job. There is no excuse for that behavior, and the police force must take it seriously. We want an easily-accessible reporting mechanism for sexual assault and harassment at the hands of police officers, and a demonstrated commitment to punishing officers who exploit their position to harass and assault the people they are supposed to protect.

3. The NYPD must be accountable to the New Yorkers they serve in a transparent process for implementing the above two demands. They must keep community leaders, local politicians and New York City residents informed about the initiatives they institute, and how they are working to make sure that an incident similar to the one involving former officers Mata and Moreno does not happen again.

Already, both officers have been fired; they were found guilty of "official misconduct." And a $57 million civil suit is still pending against the city. But based on the reactions so far, the sting goes deeper and it's going to stay.

[jcoscarelli@villagevoice.com / @joecoscarelli]

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12 comments
bloombergjustice
bloombergjustice

Does the NYPD really expect us to believe that Morena has a huge heart and was cuddling with the passed out  drunk woman and singing her Bon Jovie Songs While Mata A hard working NYPD officer was simply  tired from working so hard,  and  took a nap on her couch  and was  not a look-out..  Whatever happened to the cival trial??  was it cancelled? 

sanctuary765
sanctuary765

Between a previous comment by another officer, commenting that; 'Women shouldn't dress a certain way"...and treating a drunken woman as the NYPD officers did, is enough clear evidence that at the very least respect for women, or the abuse of power laws, or even what is decency, are left out of training to 'Protect and Serve". Who are they protecting here besides each other?

Mark Bronson
Mark Bronson

Cops....., frustated-hugh ego-losers, who just because they have two pieces of metal( the badge and the gun) think that they own the people they are supposed to protect...nothing new

Cee
Cee

I blame the jury.  They acted shamefully--a panel of ignorant, CSI-shaped, sophomoric morons.  They are fools.  Who would know better than a COP how to clean the crime scene?  He said-she said doesn't mean you defer to the defendant--it means you decide who's the more believable witness.  I've been on a NYC jury--you ARE allowed to use common sense as a factor in your decision.  Does a man whose story changes many times, who admits on tape to using a condom "so you don't have to worry about STDS or anything like that," who says "it was just me" (i.e., both of them didn't rape her) and who offers to be her "boyfriend"--does that REALLY sound like a believable witness to you?  This jury let the entire city down.  They're disgusting.  Every woman on the street is less safe because of them.

Mareli
Mareli

I was assaulted by a cop (slammed into my front door) and was then charged with attacking HIM!  I pled no contest because I was not rich enough to fight back and yes, I had been drinking just as this victim had been and knew that most people are prejudiced against women who drink too much, EVER.  What the hell is it with judgmental people?  Women have as many reasons to want to drink too much on occasion as men do, maybe more, but we are called all sorts of horrible names and are charged with crimes we did not commit if we are unlucky enough to encounter the guardians of The Law when we do.  Men accused of rape almost always get off if the women has taken any sort of mind-altering substance, even if the drug was prescribed for a medical condition.

Will737
Will737

Did I miss something here?  Isn't the correct headline, "Police Found Guilty of Official Misconduct and Fired, Found Not Guilty of Rape" ?  Or in newpaper terms "Rape:Not Guilty, Misconduct: Guilty and Fired."  Does this Misconduct charge not have a prison term of two years associated with it, or did I miss something?

nebulae
nebulae

I am upset so much I have been thinking about this whole thing ever since I heard the heinous verdict. Women continue to be taken advantage of when they are psychologically or physically vulnerable and violated and it goes unpunished and is a routine business. 

daniel
daniel

So disgusting, but not out of character for the NYPD.  I'm no fan of prisons, but these guys should have been put away.  People really need to be out on the streets protesting right now.

sanctuary765
sanctuary765

In all fairness not all police are like these two, or behave like that department does. My dad was on a police force and none of their people, that I know of, ever got accused of something like this. I believe if they had been accused, he would have wanted the citizen protected. You shouldn't judge a whole group of people by those two.

Eyeobjective
Eyeobjective

I'm a New Yorker, a minority NY'er or non-caucasian.I was actually at the trial of this horific & unbelievable case.I was there for...I'd say 5 non-consecutive days.I was-amazed at how the twodefendants/ rappers beat the case.I was there for the victims testimony (half a days worth), the detective[s] testimony, the doctors & medical professional[s] testimonies & the rappers testimony, well half day of Moreno's testimony.I've come to a conclusion after a lengthy observation & years of experience of social interaction.  From going to high school with a 85% Latino population, encarceration in a facility with about 85% Latino population for 2.5 yrs & living on & off in high Latino population neighborhoods.Latino's are found inocent 99% of the time of crimes against non-Latino's regardlessif they are guilty or not.Latino's are found guilty if they are guilty & inocent if they are inocent in crimes against Latino's 99% of the time.Latino defendant with non-Latino victim will result in not-guilty 99% of the time.Latino defendant with Latino victim will result in a fair trial.Amazing! Non-Latino victims get fucked! Something should  be done.  [something SHOULD HAVE been done]

sanctuary765
sanctuary765

Rape is the only law I know of where the victim has to prove the crime..and of the few people that bother to go ahead and report it, very few get to court or conviction as many just plead out...and the victim is victimized again..as in many cases with sexual assault. Why do the all police have the symbol, "Protect and Serve" on their cars if that isn't what their job is? Regardless of if they approve of the citizen they encounter or not, we pay for their "Protection", not their contempt.In 2011 in America it's still not considered a horrendous crime to rape?

sanctuary765
sanctuary765

If you have a daughter, a niece, a sister, a wife or girl friend, then yes, you missed the point. What if it were someone you cared about, or is that rape different?

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