Is Again Pursuing A Rape Conviction For "Rape Cop" Michael Pena Even Worth The Trouble?

Categories: Justice
vancemug.jpg
Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance must decide by May 23 whether he'll pursue a rape conviction for "Rape Cop" Michael Pena.
Embarrassment to the badge Michael Pena, also known as "Rape Cop," was sentenced yesterday to 75 years to life in prison for the brutal sexual attack of a young teacher last summer, during which the now-former NYPD officer dragged the woman into an alley at gunpoint and forced her to have sex with him.

Unless Pena, 28, lives to be at least 103, he'll die in prison -- which just about everyone is celebrating as justice served. However, many of those applauding the sentence in the media are the same people who were quick to say Pena "beat the rap" earlier this year when the jury in his case was deadlocked on two charges of rape. As we pointed out at the time, Pena hardly beat any rap -- he was convicted of the top felonies with which he was charged.

Now the question remains: will the Manhattan District Attorney's Office try to convict Pena of rape?

"Rape" is a powerful word, and it's easy to get hung up on it in a case like Pena's. But the crimes Pena was found guilty of -- in the legal sense -- actually are more serious offenses than rape.

Pena was convicted of three counts of predatory sexual assault, which is the most serious sex crime in New York's penal code -- it's a class A-II felony. Rape, on the other hand, is a class B violent felony.

The difference between rape and criminal sexual act isn't the seriousness of the offense, but the orifice that's violated (rape is strictly vaginal intercourse, where criminal sexual act -- or predatory sexual assault -- is oral or anal contact).

We hate to be crass, but this means Pena is guilty of forcing his penis into the victim's mouth or anus.

The jury's decision to not convict Pena of rape was bizarre; basically, the jurors deadlock indicated that they agreed that Pena was pinning down the victim and sexually assaulting her, but they couldn't decide whether his penis -- at any point during the assault -- touched her vagina (according to the law, rape is any vaginal penetration, "however slight").

While the rape convictions would have been nice -- and probably provided the victim with a further sense of relief -- the fact remains: Pena will likely die in prison.

If the D.A. attempts to retry the case to get a rape conviction, the victim will have to go through even more agony than she already has, once again reliving the attack. And for what -- a word?

As we mentioned, Pena's probably going to die in prison -- and the nickname "Rape Cop" already has stuck.

We want to know what you think: is it worth it for the D.A. to pursue a rape conviction for Pena now that he's already headed to the hoosegow for what will likely be the rest of his life?

Cast your vote below.



My Voice Nation Help
8 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Cato
Cato

Once again, great, balanced reporting.  But you got the important points backwards! 

The guilty verdict did *not* mean that "Pena is guilty of forcing his penis into the victim's mouth or anus", but only that there was *contact* between his penis and her mouth and anus.  "Contact" means any touching, outside *or* inside. 

On the other hand, it was *not* enough to satisfy the statutory -- not the tabloid -- definition of "rape" to show that "his penis -- at any point during the assault -- touched her vagina".  Unlike the other counts, simple "touching" is not enough for rape.  Rape, unlike those other charges, required that his penis *not only* "touch" her vagina, BUT that it also "go into" -- "penetrate" -- her vagina.  And that was where the jurors disagreed. 

Remember that Pena had been up all night, and drinking throughout.  He went through a rotation of putting his penis anywhere he could think of -- no question he could make "contact", but lots of room for debate over whether he was physically able actually to insert his penis *into* her vagina.  Remember that, whatever he did, he left no semen anywhere but on the back of her panties (probably when he picked them up from the ground).  

The distinction between the crimes really is that simple -- rape requires actual "penetration", while the others require no more than "contact".  He'll spend his life in jail for making that "contact", and the DA will decide whether he wants to try again to prove "penetration".   

Cas_eindhoven
Cas_eindhoven

Um, wait a minute...life in prison for oral rape??Sorry but we have murderers getting out and fraudsters who've never spent a night in jail...heinous as rape is, especially by a cop, I don't believe it's something that deserves life in prison.  That's really crazy.  Again, NOT condoning the crime at all but something seems really out of balance here!

ThreeAndNine
ThreeAndNine

The definition of "predatory sexual assault" used in the article is misleading. It's not the case that any oral or anal contact can result in that conviction; in this case it was applicable because Pena used a "dangerous weapon" (that is, the assault was at gunpoint) while committing other sex crimes for which he was also convicted.

The statute is here:http://ypdcrime.com/penal.law/... 

Cheryl
Cheryl

As a woman, and an attorney, my point of view is that the DA should decline to seek a rape conviction.  This man will likely die in prison and there is no need to make the victim further relive the crime.  How many times should she have to live  through it?  If the victim is satisfied with the convictions obtained then the DA should decline to prosecute the rape charge.  There are many times that criminals are convicted on less than all counts, and as long as this man will never be free to do this to another then it may well be enough for the victim to accept and her decision should be enough for all of us.

Dhalgren
Dhalgren

Go for it, Vance. You have the evidence. You have witnesses. Slam dunk.

seneca48
seneca48

It matters  The truth matters. This is the dumbest article I have ever read in my entire life.

Dhalgren
Dhalgren

Agreed. But not a dumb article. DA's sometimes have to pass on things like this all the time. The reason this got so much attention is because it was a rare daytime rape, with witnesses and physical evidence, and they couldn't get a conviction because of one or two fools in the jury. 

Cas_eindhoven
Cas_eindhoven

Why are they fools?  Blame the law and those who wrote it.  Can't believe there's a different between "rape" and "predatory sexual assault"...makes me think of rabbis and their stupid laws....

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...