May 27, 2011

Jury Says Rape is OK

I am outraged. My stomach is in knots. Let me explain with a story that I wish was false:

At the end of 2008, two NYPD officers – Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata – received a cab driver’s 911 call which reported a 27-year-old intoxicated woman in his car. In response, Moreno and Mata took her back to her apartment where she threw up and blacked out. Then, ‘allegedly’, one of them raped her while the other stood guard. The victim has explained that the officer attempted to lift her before she blacked out, after which she woke up and heard “velco ripping”, realising “somebody was rolling my tights down my legs”, which led to the crime.

“I woke up to being penetrated from behind. I woke up because the action of his penetration was so hard that my head was moving toward the window [at the end of her bed] like it was going to go through it. [I had no way to fight back] because I was so intoxicated, I was dead weight. I couldn’t say or do anything.”

Today, they were – apart from three counts of “official misconduct” – cleared of all charges.

I understand that every a rape accusation does not equal a rape, but the evidence in this case is too solid to ignore:

  • Surveillance footage shows the officers returned to her apartment three times that same night.
  • There is a recording of a fake 911 call they made to justify returning to the apartment.
  • The defense claims that the woman “became flirtatious” on their fourth visit and Moreno “succumbed” to cuddling the woman while she wore only a bra, but they did not have sexual intercourse.
  • The victim confronted Moreno outside his precinct while wearing a recording device. He told her that nothing happened, and then admitted that they “had sex” and that he had used a condom (the defense debunked this as Moreno trying to get her to leave him alone).
  • Jurors felt since there was no DNA, there was no crime. Something as simple as a shower, or the use of a condom (like he mentioned) means there wouldn’t be DNA.
  • A forensic examiner said there was bruising on the victim’s cervix that confirmed being attacked from behind. The defense refuses this and claims it is a “minor blemish” that it could have come from a venereal disease or injury during a “vigorous shower scrubbing“. BECAUSE EVERY WOMAN LIKES TO SCRUB HER CERVIX, RIGHT?
  • Post-verdict, Kenneth Moreno stated that his accuser was “mistaken and confused,” and “she made the whole thing up”, following with “I’m glad it’s over. It’s a lesson and a win“. Right. #Winning. When a reporter asked him what he meant by his comment, his lawyer – Joseph Tacopina – interjected with “well, we’ll just leave it at that.”

    Most news sources that have covered the case refer to the victim as “the drunk woman“. This is a living, breathing, feels-pain-the-same-way-as-you-and-I woman. After pushing through the threatening experience of reporting sexual abuse, this is the most unforgivable example of victim-blaming I can imagine. The jury and media are sending out a message to countless victims who think they have to remain silent: trying to prosecute a rapist is a joke if their lawyer understands loopholes.

    The system is bullshit. Is it time women only drink in their own kitchen and start installing security cameras in their undergarments? Is that the society we’re building?

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